“Ole Ole” the Aussie Open is underway

Today marked the start of the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis tournament at Melbourne Park.

Following a fortnight of drama involving World No. 1 Men’s player and defending champion, Novak Djokovic, who was deported yesterday, the first day of play got underway without any hiccups, unless of course, you were one of the unlucky players who got ousted in the first round.

Tough day for the South Africans as Anderson and Harris are sent packing

It was not a good day for the South African players, with Kevin Anderson losing to the in-form American, Reilly Opelka 3-6 4-6 6-7(7).

Australia’s Alexander Vukic defeated Lloyd Harris 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6(3).

Nadal breezes through as Zverev and Berrettini are tested on Day 1

The 6th seed, Rafael Nadal of Spain sailed past Marcos Giron of America, 6-1 6-4 6-2 in 1h49m on Rod Laver Arena.

Alexander Zverev, the 3rd seed from Germany built up a sweat in defeating fellow countryman, Daniel Altmaier 7-6(3) 6-1 7-6(1). Zverev is currently one of the favourites to lift the Norman Brookes trophy.

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, seeded 7th this year, dropped the first set before battling past the American Brandon Nakashima, 4-6 6-2 7-6(5) 6-3.

The Barty party gets underway

World No. 1, Top seeded Ladies contender and local favourite, Ashleigh Barty needed just 54 minutes to dismiss Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-0 6-1 in a masterclass performance. Barty’s great 2021 form is continuing, having recently won the Adelaide International Singles and Doubles (alongside Storm Sanders) titles and she is the firm favourite to lift the Daphne Akhurst trophy.

Badosa continues to chip away towards her first Grand Slam title

Paula Badosa of Spain, seeded 8th, is another hot favourite in the Ladies draw. Badosa added the Sydney International title to her collection on Saturday and today, wasted no time in dashing another local favourite, Ajla Tomljanovic’s hopes 6-4 6-0.

It was good to see Naomi Osaka back on the tour as she advanced to the second round after defeating Camila Osorio 6-3 6-3.

In an all American match, Madison Keys, who won the Adelaide International 2 title on Saturday, battled past the 11th seed, Sofia Kenin 7-6(2) 7-5.

Coco Gauff also found her singles title hopes dashed, when she lost to Wang Qiang of China, 6-4 6-2.

Naomi Osaka brushes Tig and the press aside in Paris

Naomi Osaka during her first round match against Patricia Maria Tig today.
Photograph courtesy of EWN.

World No. 2, Naomi Osaka from Japan, dropped a bombshell on Wednesday, when she announced on Twitter that she would not be doing any press during the French Open – read her statement below.

Fellow tour players, tournament officials, members of the press and the public were clearly taken aback with her decision, but she received support and great advice from various sources.

Rennae Stubbs (former Grand Slam Titles winner and Olympian, turned commentator and coach) – “4 someone who now works in media & knows how important quotes & sound bites are, I was also a player, with feelings! This move from Naomi is really an amazing moment 4 the media to LISTEN to these players & understand how tough it is for many of them & to do better & get better!”

Ellen DeGeneres (American talk show host, actress, comedian, writer and producer) – “Sending you so much love and support.”

Zina Garrison (Mixed Doubles Grand Slam Title winner and Olympics Doubles Gold medallist) – “Naomi Osaka has a point. But it is two side to this coin. She will be able to pay for the fine most Athletes can’t. Love you are bring awareness to mental health in sports. Come together with all sides and work on a solution now. Love your honesty.” @gamessetchatlive@Chanda_Rubin

At the tender age of 23, Osaka has already notched up four Grand Slam Singles titles, two Laureus Sports Awards, she is the world’s highest paid female athlete of all time and an investor in several businesses and organisations.

Following her first round win over Patricia Maria Tig of Romania 6-4 7-6(4) today, she received a $15,000 fine for not attending the post-match press conference. All four Grand Slam tournaments have apparently issued a joint statement saying that she could face even harsher consequences should she continue not to honour her media duties.

I have watched several post-match interviews and often wondered if the journalists actually watched the match or just looked at the score line and thumb sucked a few questions. The on-court interviews, which are carried out by ex-players and commentators are a lot more professional and interesting.

Osaka has clearly given this a lot of thought and honestly owes no-one an explanation. One can only hope that an amicable solution will be found by all concerned and that the press will be more thoughtful when asking post-match questions.

I thought this quote by Analis Bailey, a USA Today sports reporter summed it up perfectly

Quote card. Naomi Osaka pumps her fist during a second-round match in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium in March 2021. Quote: "It's time to accept that (Naomi) Osaka is a human being before she's an athlete. Stepping away from the things that do not serve as an essential practice for your well-being, regardless of how mandatory society makes those things, is smart, not problematic." Endquote. Analis Bailey. USA TODAY Sports reporter.