UPDATED 5PM (AEDT), 19/01/2022
Australian Open favourite Rafael Nadal has triumphed against his second-round opponent German Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets.
The third set proved to be a battle, with Nadal finally nabbing his third set on his fifth match point after two hours and 42 minutes.
The Spaniard, ranked fifth in the world, comfortably put away his first set in 48 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, breaking Hanfmann’s service twice to nab the first set 6-2.
But as Hanfmann found his momentum in the second set, precisely placing some well-placed shots well out of Nadal’s reach, the Spaniard began to sweat.
Nadal brought the game back in his favour just as Hanfmann seemed to be closing, breaking serve to claim the second set.
The third set proved to be more troublesome for Nadal, with Hanfmann not going down without a fight.
Upon his exit from Rod Laver Arena, Hanfmann got a standing ovation from Nadal, who spoke highly of the 126th-ranked player.
“I know he’s dangerous. The result against Thanasi in the first round says he was great.
“He has very high potential. His level of tennis was much higher than what his ranking says no doubt, so I wish him all the best.”
Nadal’s next opponent is yet to be confirmed. He will next face either 28th seed Russian Karen Khachanov or Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in the third round.
Barty’s impressive track record
Earlier on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, Australian golden girl Ash Barty breezed through to the third round after triumphing over Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-1.
It took just 52 minutes for the world No.1 to demolish Bronzetti in their round two Open clash, dropping just two games in the process.
In total, Barty has lost only three games in Melbourne so far.
She is in fighting form for the third round, having spent less than two hours in total on court at Melbourne Park.
Wednesday was also the tournament’s inaugural AO First Nations Day.
Barty, a Ngaragu woman, has spoken throughout her career about the impact fellow Indigenous player and four-time Australian Open champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley has had on her career. She paid tribute again after Wednesday’s ruthless win.
“She’s an incredible human being … The universe has worked in a way that we’re so connected.
“We’re connected through our heritage and she’s paved a path for so many Indigenous youth coming up, both in her career and also in her work off the court.”
“I’m privileged to know her and I love her to death.”
Barty will face Italian Camila Giorgi in the third round – a contest the Australian said will test her agility.
“She’s one of the most athletic girls out here,” Barty said.
“I’ll have to put my running shoes on.”
Aussie tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis are set to reunite for doubles on Day 3 of the 2022 Australian Open.
While Kyrgios is through to Round 2 of the tournament, scheduled to play Daniil Medvedev on Thursday evening, Kokkinakis crashed out early, succumbing to Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets on Monday night.
The doubles tournament offers an opportunity for Kokkinakis, who has been in strong form this summer, to reprise his Australian Open dreams.
Kyrgios, ranked 259th for doubles, and Kokkinakis, ranked 434th, will take to Show Court 3 in what promises to be a highly amusing match.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis’ mateship and banter is often as entertaining as the gameplay itself.
Speaking in a post-match conference following their second round doubles defeat in the 2021 Australian Open, the pair were asked about their approach to the game.
“There was a lot of communication between the two of you. What percentage was tactical and what percentage was social?”
“Tactical? Maybe 1 per cent,” Kokkinakis remarked, with Kyrgios giggling to the side.
“I don’t know,” said Kyrgios. “There was actually a bit of talking out there today, tactical-wise.”
“It was definitely more just rubbish,” Kokkinakis retorted.
Sure to add to the hilarity, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will face fellow Aussies Alex Bolt and James McCabe.
It’s uncertain how seriously the pair will approach the match – but it’s sure at least to be entertaining.
On Sunday, before the Open, Kokkinakis said it’s “always an experience” playing doubles with his best mate.
“We always talk rubbish together … I don’t think we’re the most sort of traditional doubles pairing you’ll see. We have fun out there. We like to get the crowd going.”
And that they certainly will. Show Court 3 was home to Aleksandar Vukic’s first Australian Open win on Monday – with the rising star saying he couldn’t have done it without the booming crowd.
“[The crowd] probably won me the match … It was insane. I’d win a point and it’d feel like we’re winning a match,” Vukic told Nine.
Kyrgios’ dream doubles partner
Kyrgios has hinted he may be keen to start a new doubles team in the near future – and his pick for a partner may surprise you.
Kyrgios has addressed his blossoming “bromance” with the world No.1, hinting that they may one day take to the court together.
“We got a bit of a bromance going on now … I think I’m going to ask him to play doubles somewhere.”
Djokovic and Kyrgios have a long and complicated history, and the pair haven’t always gotten along.
As recently as January 2021, Kyrgios criticised Djokovic for his Adria Tournament, in which a number of participating players contracted coronavirus after celebrating at a nightclub.
“Unfortunately someone that’s partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don’t know if I can take any slack from that man. That’s as bad as it gets for me,” said Kyrgios.
Kyrgios even tweeted that the tournament was more ‘stupid’ than anything he’d done.
“This takes the cake.”
Despite past conflict, the Aussie seems to have changed his tune on Djokovic more recently, showing him support amid battle to stay in the country ahead of the 2022 tournament.
“How we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad,” he tweeted.
“At the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”
Kyrgios said Djokovic thanked him personally for his support, speaking on the No Boundaries podcast.
“Novak has reached out to me personally on IG (Instagram) saying ‘Thank you for standing up for me’,” he said.
“I was not the one he was expecting to go out in the media and have his back. As a human, he’s obviously feeling quite alienated in all of this. As a human, that’s a dangerous place to be in – when you feel like the world is against you, like you can’t do anything right.”
Kyrgios’ current partner, Kokkinakis, is yet to react to his rumoured replacement.