After the success of the Brits yesterday in Melbourne, today we saw some of the best players in the world take to the courts as reigning champion Naomi Osaka, world number one Ashleigh Barty and the great Rafael Nadal were all in action. Here’s how they got on, and how day three unfolded.
Osaka returns with a bang
After winning the US Open in 2020, and then the Australian Open last year, Osaka went through the toughest spell of her career and has spoken openly about her mental health and her own struggles. However, now she is back where she belongs, on the court, and it is utterly joyous to see her at her best once again.
Her second round tie with American Madison Brengle lasted less than an hour as she romped to the first set in 20 minutes, winning 6-0, before overcoming a tough challenge in the second set to secure a 6-0, 6-4 victory. This performance drew top praise from Andy Murray, who has been a big advocate of the women’s game for several years and is loving what he has seen so far from the champion.
Osaka will now face another American, teenager Amanda Anisimova in round three.
Rafa Nadal targets second success
It may have been a poor week for Rafa Benitez at Everton, but his namesake and countryman Nadal has booked his place in round three with a comfortable 6-2,6-3,6-4 win over Yannick Hanfmann. He will now play 28th seed Karen Khachanov in the next round but it seems his experience could prove key as we move deeper into the tournament.
The 2009 champion and five-time finalist is remarkably the only former champion left in the men’s draw and given the absence of Novak Djokovic, the Spaniard must be licking his lips and eyeing up his second Aussie Open title.
The favourite to lift the women’s title Down Under is not the reigning champion Osaka, but instead the world number one and in-form talent Ashleigh Barty. She has been on fire so far this week and thrashed Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-1 in 52 minutes, having taken just two minutes longer to beat Lusia Tsurenko in the previous round.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has lost just three games in total so far, as she begins her quest to become Australian Open champion for the first time. She has already tasted success in Australia this year as she won the Adelaide International, and her serve, a great weapon, has been too difficult for her opponents to deal with.
"I'm continually trying to make it a weapon,” she said about her serve after her win.
"I'm not the biggest girl out there, but I know I've got a sound technique and I know if I can get my rhythm right and use it effectively, it can be a weapon.”
She will now take on Italian 30th seed Camila Giorgi as she looks to become the first home winner of the Aussie Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978.