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January 2022

January is usually a quiet month for many sports, but this is not the case for tennis, as one of the biggest events of the season, the Australian Open, took place this month. This Grand Slam event usually has plenty of thrilling matches and incredible stories, and this year was no different.

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Build-up

The few weeks before the Australian Open were dominated not by tennis, but by the controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic.

It was a requirement to be fully vaccinated to play in the event. The world number 1 and defending champion was initially granted an exemption on medical grounds, which turned out to be a recent positive Covid-19 test. However, when he arrived in Australia, border forces refused his entry into the country. Appeals and trials followed, but it ended with Djokovic being unable to play the event, and sent home.

The ATP Cup kicked off the 2022 season, with the Canadian team of Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez taking home the title, after they beat Spain in the final.

Rafael Nadal made his return to the tour having not played since August of last year, and showed no signs of rust winning the ATP 250 event in Melbourne without dropping a set, beating Maxime Cressy in the final. Cressy, ranked 112 at the start of the year, had an excellent few weeks in Australia. He would leave with 11 wins and just 3 losses, which included a run to the Fourth Round at the Australian Open, where he took a set off world number 2 Daniil Medvedev.

Gael Monfils, Ash Barty and Madison Keys picked up titles in Adelaide, and there was also a first ATP title for Adelaide local Thanasi Kokkinakis at the same venue. Aslan Karatsev beat Andy Murray in the final of Sydney, where Paula Badosa also won, and titles in Melbourne were won by Simona Halep and Amanda Anisimova.

First Grand Slam Tournament of the year

Men's event

There were some early surprises on the men’s side, one of them being Adrian Mannarino upsetting Hubert Hurkacz and Aslan Karatsev to reach the Fourth Round, where he challenged Nadal but was unable to advance further.

British number 1 Cameron Norrie capped an underwhelming Australian swing with a First Round loss to young talent Sebastian Korda, and Andy Murray won a thrilling First Round match against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in five sets, but then lost to qualifier Taro Daniel in the following round.

Brit Dan Evans was in red-hot form in Australia, winning all 3 singles matches in the ATP Cup and then reaching the Semi-Finals in Sydney. He overcame former top 10 player David Goffin to reach the Third Round, but was beaten by Felix Auger-Aliassime who also had a very impressive month.

Some of the bigger shocks came later in the event, with Marin Cilic taking out 5th seed Andrey Rublev in the Third Round, and Shapovalov beating 3rd seed Alex Zverev in straight sets in the Fourth Round. The aforementioned Auger-Aliassime almost stunned 2nd seed and favourite Medvedev, leading by two sets and having match point, but the Russian was able to come back and win. 7th seed Matteo Berrettini has a great run, beating teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in a deciding set tiebreak, then Pablo Carreno Busta and Gael Monfils to reach the Semi-Finals.

Two men overcame recent injury troubles to make the Semi-Finals: Stefanos Tsitsipas returned to form by overcoming Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner, and Nadal beat Shapovalov in 5 sets in the Quarter-Finals. Medvedev completed the line-up.

Medvedev beat Tsitsipas in 4 sets and Nadal beat Berrettini, also in 4 sets, to set up an enthralling final. The pair had met before in a Grand Slam final at the US Open in 2019, where Nadal triumphed in 5 sets. However, it was Medvedev who took a two set lead, making a brilliant backhand pass to take the second set on a tiebreak.

But Nadal fought back, despite facing 3 break points in the third set he won it 6-4, and also took the fourth 6-4. He broke Medvedev early in the fifth set, but when serving for the match at 5-4, the Russian broke back. Nadal broke again in the very next game, and this time served it out to win the title, his second Australian Open and 21st Grand Slam title, moving him ahead of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to take the outright lead in most grand slam tournaments won.

Women's Event

In the women’s event, there were also plenty of upsets. Some of the young stars of the game, such as Leylah Fernandez, Cori Gauff and Sofia Kenin, went out in the First Round.

Another young star, Emma Raducanu, was soundly beaten in the only warm-up event she played by Elena Rybakina, but managed to defeat former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the First Round.

In the Second Round, however, she was severely hampered by blisters and lost to Danka Kovinic in 3 sets. Defending champion Naomi Osaka lost a thrilling Third Round match to Anisimova in a deciding set tiebreak.

36-year-old Kaia Kanepi produced some stunning results, beating 3-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber and world number 2 Aryna Sabalenka to make the Quarter-Finals.

Madison Keys was also in great form, beating Kenin, Paola Badosa and reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova on her way to the Semi-Finals. Another American in electric form was Danielle Collins, who beat Iga Swiatek in the Semi-Finals to make her first grand slam final.

However, the event was dominated from start to finish by top seed Ash Barty, who beat Collins 6-3 7-6 in the final to win her home Grand Slam event for the first time, without dropping a set in the entire fortnight. It is her first Grand Slam title on hard, meaning she now has won Grand Slam titles on all 3 surfaces.

Men's Doubles Event

The Men’s Doubles was won by Australian wildcards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, after they beat fellow Australians Matt Ebden and Max Purcell in the final.

Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram, 2nd seeds in the event, lost to Ebden and Purcell in the Semi-Finals, and top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic went out in the Second Round to Kokkinakis and Kyrgios.

Quad Wheelchair Singles Event

The Women’s Doubles was won by Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, and the Mixed Doubles was won by Kristina Mladenovic and Ivan Dodig.

Wheelchair Event

Last but not least, Australian wheelchair tennis legend Dylan Alcott played his last event, having won 15 Grand Slam titles. However, he was denied a fairytale ending, losing the final of the Quad Wheeelchair Singles to 2nd seed Sam Schroder.

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