On the first day of 2018, Djokovic and Nadal met in an epic battle for the Madrid Open title. The men’s final was decided by a dramatic few points, with Nadal prevailing 6-4 4-6 9-7. Osaka won her maiden WTA Tour singles title after beating Christina McHale 3 – 0 in straight sets.
Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, and Rafael Nadal are three players that will be competing in the Australian Open. The tournament will take place from January 16th to January 28th, 2022.
The 2022 Australian Open is finally here, after a spectacular build-up that grabbed worldwide interest. While Novak Djokovic will continue to dominate the headlines, whether he is able to compete or not, the rest of the field will be vying for the year’s first major trophy.
Despite the lack of other high-profile stars and the absence of Djokovic, the tournament remains a star-studded affair. So, which players should we set our alarm clocks for here in the United States, and what are the major themes to keep an eye on? We have answers to all of these questions and more.
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It was his first event in almost five months, and he had only just recovered from a breakthrough COVID-19 infection (he is vaccinated) in December, so the triumph was all the more amazing.
“I really worked hard,” Nadal said immediately after hoisting the Boomerang trophy. “I am pretty happy with the way that I addressed all of these really trying months in terms of attitude, good spirit, and drive to strive to be back.” “This title encourages me to keep going, and it’s just the beginning.”
Nadal has only won the Australian Open once, in 2009, but with the absence of several of his contemporaries and his new found momentum, this might be his chance to win it again and set a new record for the most major championships won by a male player.
If it happened, talk about a story twist.
Emma Raducanu’s victory in the 2021 US Open stunned even her. Getty Images/Kelly Defina photo
The phenoms of adolescence
Emma Raducanu, the 19-year-old Romanian who stunned the tennis world by storming through qualification at the US Open to win in just her second Grand Slam main event, will receive a lot of attention in her first major since her run in New York.
Since then, it’s been a rough ride. She was eliminated in the first round of two of the three events she competed in following the US Open.
She hasn’t had much luck in the new year, though, as a positive COVID-19 test forced her to miss last week’s lead-up competition in Melbourne. On Tuesday, she was defeated 6-0, 6-1 by Elena Rybakina in only 55 minutes in her opening match of 2022.
Despite the lopsided outcome, she looked unfazed, smiling in delight when she won a game to prevent a double bagel and maintaining a happy attitude thereafter.
She told reporters after the match, “I just want to keep putting myself out there.” “It’s simply about getting back up and falling in front, even if I keep being pushed down.” You’ve progressed one step farther and have gained additional knowledge.
“I’m just a few weeks into my first season. My objective is to avoid being too depressed or overly elated.”
Raducanu seems to be fine regardless of how she does in her debut Melbourne outing. And it’s probably for the best, since her first-round match is against Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner.
Raducanu, of course, isn’t the only young sensation in the mix. Leylah Fernandez, who played in the US Open final, and Carlos Alcaraz, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2020 and the quarterfinals in Paris in 2021, will also be looking to build on their success in New York. And, lest we forget, there’s 17-year-old Coco Gauff, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2020 and the quarterfinals in Paris in 2021. Gauff reached the US Open doubles final with Caty McNally, now 20, and the pair, known as #McCoco, will hope to repeat their success in Australia.
In the 2021 US Open final, Daniil Medvedev defeated Novak Djokovic. courtesy of Getty Images/Graham Denholm
Is Medvedev the new king of the hard court?
Daniil Medvedev advanced to the final of the 2021 Australian Open before losing in straight sets against Djokovic. In March, he became the first player outside of the “Big Three” to enter the top two in the rankings, thanks to his run to the championship match and a streak of solid performances.
In September, he pushed his career to a new level by spoiling Djokovic’s attempt for the coveted “Calendar Slam” and earning his first major victory in the process. The 25-year-old produced a stunning upset and a great performance, remaining poised throughout and winning in straight sets.
Medvedev might meet Nick Kyrgios, a popular local favorite, in a second-round encounter that promises to be one for the ages and deliver several viral moments.
The very best of the rest
We’ve always knew the “Big Three’s” reign of terror would come to an end at some point, but it appeared for a long time that the three would continue to defy the laws of aging indefinitely. While Djokovic is still the favorite in Melbourne, and Nadal is still a strong contender, the new generation has finally arrived.
Although Medvedev and Thiem (2020 US Open) were the first to win Grand Slam championships, it seems that more will soon follow. The ATP’s top four players, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, have both participated in major finals and won some special hardware in recent years. Zverev won Olympic gold in Tokyo this summer, as well as the ATP Finals championship in 2021. Tsitsipas won the year-end tour championship in 2019 and fought Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final for five sets.
Others have shown they can compete on the highest stage: Matteo Berrettini, Felix Auger Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Hubert Hurkacz, and Aslan Karatsev all reached the semifinals or better at a major in 2021.
This time, who among them will make a move? While not exactly a hard-court favorite, Berrettini is in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw and could potentially capitalize on all of the uncertainty surrounding the top seed. Aliassime and Shapovalov are coming off a victory for Team Canada at the ATP Cup, and while not exactly a hard-court favorite, Berrettini is in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw and could potentially capitalize on all of the uncertainty surrounding the top seed.
Will a relative unknown, such as Karatsev, have a Cinderella run at the Australian Open in 2021? With the shambolic start to the 2022 season, it seems like anything is possible.
In Sydney this week, Andy Murray reached his first ATP final since 2019. Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images photo
Don’t forget about these names as well.
While the focus is naturally on the next generation of stars, it’s worth noting that there are a few older players in the draw who aren’t necessarily favorites but have a lot of momentum.
Simona Halep: Injuries derailed her in 2021. She finished the year ranked outside the top five for the first time since 2013. However, Halep, 30, seems to have returned to form, winning the title at the Melbourne Summer Set last week. With two major titles in her career, and an appearance at the Australian Open final in 2018, Halep might just have as good a chance as anyone.
Gael Monfils: Once ranked as high as No. 6 and now at 19th, the 35-year-old didn’t drop a set as he convincingly dominated the field en route to an Adelaide title last week. He retired from his opening match early in the third set at Adelaide 2 this week with injury, and he has never advanced past the semifinals at a Slam, but, again, have you seen how 2022 has gone thus far? If healthy, Monfils has all the tools for a deep run.
Garbine Muguruza: The two-time major champion finished 2021 with the title at the WTA Finals and is ranked No. 3 entering the season’s first major. Muguruza, 28, went 1-1 this week in Sydney, her lone warm-up tournament. She reached the final in Melbourne in 2020 (as well as the final at a Melbourne 500 event last year) so she obviously knows how to win on the grounds.
Andy Murray: The three-time major champion continues his comeback with grit, determination and some saltiness on Twitter for good measure. He returns to Melbourne for the first time in three years as a wild card, and reached his first ATP final since 2019 in Sydney this week. While the expectations remain relatively low for Murray, he has reached the Australian Open final five times in his career and has proved he can never be counted out.
Questions that remain unsolved
Can Sofia Kenin bounce back at the site of her biggest career achievement? The 23-year-old American won the 2020 title at the Australian Open shortly before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. She reached the delayed French Open final when play returned in the fall but struggled in 2021, needing an emergency surgery to remove her appendix in Melbourne and firing — and then rehiring — her coach (and father) Alex. Will she get back on track at the Australian Open? She’ll have to get past fellow American Madison Keys, a former Australian Open semifinalist, in her opener.
Will the Americans be able to redeem themselves after a poor showing at the US Open? No American man or woman reached the quarterfinals in New York — for the first time in tournament history. There are a number of Americans who could right the ship, however. Amanda Anisimova nabbed her second career WTA title (and first since 2019) last week in Melbourne, and Maxime Cressy reached the final on the men’s side. Taylor Fritz pushed Djokovic to five sets last year in Melbourne, and Shelby Rogers has shown her giant-slaying potential in recent months with wins over Barty at the US Open and Maria Sakkari last week in Adelaide. Not to mention, Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Reilly Opelka, Sloane Stephens, Brandon Nakashima, Ann Li, Sebastian Korda and, of course, Kenin are all in the mix.
What is going on with Aryna Sabalenka? The world No. 2 had a breakthrough 2021, reaching the semifinals at both Wimbledon and the US Open. But she appears to have a case of the yips when it comes to her once-powerful serve. In the two matches she played leading into the Australian Open — both losses — she had a combined 39 double faults. In her first-round loss in Sydney earlier this week to Rebecca Peterson, she was in tears during the match and even resorted to using an underhand motion in the final two sets. Will she be able to figure out what’s ailing her in time for the year’s first major?
Will the women’s side have yet another first-time champion? Since the start of the 2016 season, there have been 14 different Grand Slam singles victors, and the astonishing depth of talent continues to be on full display in the women’s game. In 2021, Raducanu and French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova proved anyone in the women’s main draw — no matter their rank, résumé or seeding — is capable of winning the title. This time around, it could be someone who has come close before, such as Sakkari or Leylah Fernandez — or it could be someone you’ve never heard of.
Watch This Video-
The “nadal news” is a recent article that talks about the latest happenings in tennis. It includes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.
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