The lead-up to the 2022 Australian Open has been… well, eventful. It’s now time for the tennis to shine as the main draw for the Australian Open began on Monday. This post wraps up the highlights from the first round. On the whole, I think it was a pretty subdued start (which was probably required after the last week 😂) and the top ten seeds are all still intact. Read on for my notes from the first two days.
1st round stories 📚
My first watch of AO 2022 was the biggest surprise on day 1 as Wang Qiang defeated the number 18 seed, Coco Gauff, 6-4 6-2. I didn’t see this one coming AT ALL! Gauff had won their two previous matches in straights and Wang hadn’t won a match since the Olympics. Gauff hit 38 unforced errors in her attempts to break through the defences of Wang Qiang who gave very few free points away. I originally had Gauff to the semis in my draw which I downgraded to last 16 after watching Badosa’s Sydney win. I was convinced Gauff was a dark horse in this draw.
It was an upset on paper but I don’t think there were too many raised eyebrows with Madison Keys‘s victory over the number 11 seed, Sofia Kenin, 7-6(2) 7-5. Keys was fantastic in Adelaide and this opening performance was simply a continuation with another stellar serving display that was headlined by 15 aces. I thought it was a high quality match and Kenin wasn’t bad by any means. Now that Gauff has departed this section of the draw, Keys’s route looks reasonably clear to the second week.
Ash Barty opened her title bid with an emphatic 6-0 6-1 victory over Lesia Tsurenko in just 54 minutes. Not much more to add really, it was pretty much perfect for the early rounds of Slams. Naomi Osaka also won through on the Rod Laver Arena during the day session with a 6-3 6-3 victory over the creative and plucky, Camila Osorio. Ultimately, Osaka’s power was the difference. Fun match.
The last match of day 1 saw the number 8 seed Paula Badosa beat Ajla Tomljanovic for the second time in a week, this time, 6-4 6-0. Both were dealing with some injuries. Badosa took a medical time-out at 5-4* in the first set for a leg/groin injury. Badosa didn’t look too comfortable but managed to break for the set on the resumption and then was simply awesome in the second set. I really hope that leg/groin won’t be an issue because otherwise, I think she’s in it for the long haul. Badosa is a definite title contender.
I began my watching on day 2 with the end of Ana Konjuh against Shelby Rogers which had to be up there as one of the most brutal first round matches across the entire draw. Konjuh missed a trio of match points when trying to close at *5-4 in the third set but was then absolutely emphatic at *6-5 with some huge serving, closing out a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory. This was Konjuh’s first Slam main draw win since the 2017 US Open. Side note – the guy cheering for Shelby at the end was extremely irritating so I was kind of rooting for Ana at the end!
The number two seed, Aryna Sabalenka won her first match of the year, rallying from a set and a break down to beat Storm Sanders, 5-7 6-3 6-2. I actually went for Sanders in my TDC after watching Sabalenka’s horror start to the season in Adelaide. There were certainly some issues in the first set on serve for Sabalenka but I thought it was more about Sanders who was inspired. Sanders had a break point lead 7-5 4-1. The Aussie player couldn’t convert and was never the same player after Sabalenka nearly took out her face in a smash-and-grab point at the net. Sanders fell away as Sabalenka got more opportunities to pummel the Sanders second serve and managed to settle down on her own serve. In the end, an impressive fight from Sabalenka and feels like a huge win. I have no idea what to expect from Aryna in the next round. Still not on my list of contenders.
There were more seeded upsets on day 2. Sorana Cirstea beat the number 20 seed, Petra Kvitova, 6-2 6-2 and Kaia Kanepi defeated the number 16 seed, Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-3. Neither were huge surprises. Kvitova had looked far from her best in her opening two tournaments and unfortunately this match followed that same trend. I still held some hope for Petra because sometimes she springs into life and has a great run when you least expect it. Kerber had revealed recently that she had had COVID so this was her first match of the season. Kanepi in your first match back and at a Slam. Nope. That’s not what you want.
The result that really did shock me was home favourite, Maddison Inglis upsetting the number 23 seed, Leylah Fernandez, 6-4 6-2. I thought Leylah was destined for a decent run here but it was an out-of-sorts display. A great moment for Maddison who scored her first top 50 win.
Favourite match 🎆
No stand-out blockbusters from the first two days. I’d actually go for the last of the first rounders between Emma Raducanu and Sloane Stephens which was an absorbing contest and had me intrigued from start to finish. Raducanu won, 6-0 2-6 6-1, in a classic WTA WTF scoreline.
We know so little about Raducanu and I feel we learn more with every match. As a reminder, this was Raducanu’s first main draw showing at the Australian Open and her first ever three setter at a Slam. Radcuanu came racing out of the blocks and was totally up for this, celebrating after winning the first point. The match developed into a contest in the second set when Stephens started to move her feet. 6-1 didn’t feel like an accurate scoreline to portray the third set. Stephens did miss quite a few balls but it felt much closer in the rallies. A great win for Raducanu and the reaction at the end said it all.
A nice moment in the first match of the tournament on Rod Laver Arena.
Funny moment 🤣
G’day mate 😂
Super snap 📸
I love pictures that incorporate the Melbourne signs.
Press highlights 📰
A thoughtful presser from Naomi. Loved her takedown of the Djokovic question – “Is my opinion going to help anything?”
Recommended media 📺
This was a very nice on-court interview with Ash Barty and Jelena Dokic. You can feel the emotion from Jelena when she references the Wimbledon win.
Recommended reading 📚
Delighted to see Sam Stosur win her first round match over Robin Anderson! This will be Sam’s last outing in singles. Missed it off the stories above as sadly didn’t get a chance to watch it but hoping to catch her next match against Pavs.
R1 predictions ✅
R1 stats: 44/64 on TDC
R1 highlights: Surprised to have all eight quarter-finalists still in play after round one! My big hits were Kvitova, Fernandez, Jabeur and Gauff who were all in my last 16. Best predictions were Brengle, Konjuh and Baptiste. Went the wrong way on Raducanu-Stephens and Sabalenka-Sanders!
R2 previews 🤔
(22) Belinda Bencic vs. Amanda Anisimova: AA vs. BB is a cracker of a second rounder. I like the fact that AA had to battle through in the first round. Winning when not playing at your best is a big deal. I think BB might still be building fitness after having COVID so i’m leaning towards Anisimova continuing her winning streak.
(5) Maria Sakkari vs. Zheng Qinwen: One to circle with Zheng very much still an unknown quantity and therefore, a danger. Sakkari slightly vulnerable at this early stage. I think Sakkari survives in three.
(24) Victoria Azarenka vs. Jil Teichmann: Ding ding ding, it’s a first time meeting! Expecting some fine rallies in this one. Teichmann one to watch. I think i’d still go Vika.
(6) Anett Kontaveit vs. Clara Tauson: I think Tauson breaks through with a big Slam win in 2022. Could it be here? Went for it in my Draw Chal and I will stand by it.
(27) Danielle Collins vs. Ana Konjuh: This match-up fascinates me. A true 50-50 clash.
(31) Marketa Vondrousova vs. Liudmila Samsonova: I can’t say i’ve been a big fan or follower of Samsonova before but just had this feeling when doing my draw she’s going to have a run here. Yep, i’m going for Samsonova to cause a mini upset here.