“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.

Serving up some Covid-19

Since the onset of the coronavirus in December last year, the world has been brought to its knees, with all sporting events since March this year either being postponed or cancelled.

Tennis was no exception with two of the three remaining 2020 Grand Slam tournaments hanging in the balance, after Wimbledon was cancelled.

As the ATP and WTA had cancelled several events, Novak Djokovic, the World No. 1 Men’s Player arranged four Adria Exhibition Tour Events to be held in June and July.

The lineup included Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and several other players.

With each country determining their own lockdown rules, and with Serbia’s coronavirus stats on the decline, the Serbian Government gave the go ahead and the first leg kicked off in Belgrade, Serbia.

Thousands of tennis faithful flocked to the event, where social distancing was not adhered to and only a few spectators wore masks. The players were also engaging in many social activities on and off the courts. Djokovic was grilled by the press but maintained that they had followed the Serbian Government’s instructions and that it was not his call to make.

Grigor Dimitrov drops the “bomb”

The second leg, which was played this past weekend in Zadar, Croatia, saw a seemingly unwell Grigor Dimitrov suffer an easy loss to Borna Coric and then withdraw from his second match.

Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev had advanced to Sunday’s final and shortly before they were expected to walk on to the court, Dimitrov announced on his Instagram account that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and asked anyone who was in contact with him to also get tested.

It was then up to Djokovic’s coach and former Grand Slam Champion, Goran Ivanisevic, to make the announcement on court which saw the final and remaining two events cancelled.

Although Dimitrov was the first person to confirm his positive coronavirus test result, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Aleksandra Troicki, Novak Djokovic, Jelena Djokovic and several support staff have also tested positive for the virus.

This has cast an unfortunate shadow on the rest of the 2020 season with Djokovic receving lots of flak from around the tennis globe.

The USTA announced some stringent rules for the upcoming US Open, which is scheduled to start on 31 August. These include regular testing, residing at hotels close to airports, limited number of players and staff and no spectators.

Djokovic, Serena Williams and several other players have voiced their opinions and are considering withdrawing from the event.

The French Open organisers moved their tournament date from May to September, which means that “The King of Clay”, Rafael Nadal, will probably skip the US Open in order to prepare for a record thirteenth title on clay.

With the coronavirus cementing it’s hooks around the globe, the idea of cancelling all events for the rest of this year may not be the worst idea.

Thiem and Djokovic advance as rain halts Nadal’s match

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Withdrawal list mounts ahead of the US Open

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Murray, Djokovic and Nadal all advance to the fourth round

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It’s Nadal vs Djokovic in the Madrid semis today

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Mixed results in the Men’s draw on Day 8 in Madrid

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