Australian Open 2022: Ashleigh Barty marks First Nations Day with easy win in Melbourne

The top-ranked Barty has Indigenous heritage and her second-round match at Melbourne Park's main stadium was among the features of a program dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.

The Associated Press January 19, 2022 12:30:20 IST
Australian Open 2022: Ashleigh Barty marks First Nations Day with easy win in Melbourne

Ashleigh Barty has breezed through her first two rounds at the Australian Open. AP

Melbourne: Ash Barty was front and center when the Australian Open celebrated its inaugural First Nations Day.

Albeit not for very long. The top-ranked Barty has Indigenous heritage and her second-round match at Melbourne Park's main stadium on Wednesday was among the features of a program dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.

She was on and off the court quickly, beating 142nd-ranked qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-1 in 52 minutes.

"Really cool. ... Nice for me to be a part of it in a way I feel most comfortable," Barty said. "On a day when we're bringing culture together ... it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy that.

"I was really fortunate to be able to play today."

Rafael Nadal didn't get it all his own way in the next match on Rod Laver Arena, needing five match points and 2 hours, 42 minutes to beat 126th-ranked German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

The sixth-seeded Nadal, aiming for a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title, had two match points on Hanfmann's serve in the ninth game of the third set and then two more on his own in the next game before finally clinching a spot in the third round when his rival sent a forehand long.

Nadal converted four of his 16 break point chances, including one of eight in the third set, but only faced two breakpoints on his own serve and fended them both off.

"I knew him before, I played against him in the first round at Roland Garros — I know he's dangerous," Nadal said. "Today his level of tennis was much higher than what his ranking says, without a doubt."

The 35-year-old Nadal shares the men's record of 20 singles titles with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, and he doesn't have either of them in the draw this time.

Federer is skipping the Australian Open while he continues his recovery from injury. Djokovic, a nine-time champion at Melbourne Park, was deported after an 11-day saga that he ultimately lost because he didn't meet Australia's strict COVID-19 vaccination regulations.

Miomir Kecmanovic, who was originally drawn to meet Djokovic on the opening night of the tournament, advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (7), 7-5, 7-6 (8) win over Tommy Paul of the United States.

In other second-round matches, No. 23 Reilly Opelka had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Dominik Koepfer, No. 19 Pablo Carreno Busta beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 and No. 31 Carlos Alcaraz beat Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

Barty extended her streak of service holds to 48 games and moved into the third round at Melbourne Park for the sixth consecutive year.

The 2021 Wimbledon and 2019 French Open champion dropped just one game in her first-round match, which also took less than an hour, as she bids to become the first Australian woman since 1978 to win the country's Grand Slam tournament.

Next up for Barty will be a match against another Italian, 30th-seeded Camila Giorgi. Win that, and Barty could end up in a fourth-round showdown against defending champion Naomi Osaka.

In the day's opening match on Rod Laver Arena, eighth-seeded Paula Badosa had a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan.

Badosa won the title at a Sydney tuneup tournament last week, when she put together back-to-back match wins in Australia for the first time.

In other early second-round results on Day 3, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka beat Jil Teichmann 6-1, 6-2 and and will next face No. 15-seeded Elina Svitolina, who was leading 6-3, 5-7, 5-1 when Harmony Tan retired from their second-round match.

No 21 Jessica Pegula beat fellow American Bernarda Pera 6-4, 6-4, and Madison Keys had a 6-2, 7-5 win over Jaqueline Adina Cristian.

Svitolina waited on court at Margaret Court Arena until Tan, who had received treatment on her lower left leg after the fifth game of the third set, was removed in a wheelchair.

"It's always horrible when any athlete gets injured in competition. She played really well and she made it not easy for me," Svitolina said. "I was a tough match. It's tough to see a player going out like this."

With her lower left leg heavily bandaged, the 24-year-old Tan couldn't even move to the ball as Svitolina held serve. The ailing Frenchwoman reverted to serving underarm, hoping to be able to finish the match rather than retire.

Chair umpire Richard Haigh called on Tan to stop or risk doing more damage as she appeared to struggle with cramps in her right leg, too.

With her mother signaling from the grandstand for her to quit, Tan left the court in tears after a hug from Svitolina and sustained applause from the crowd.

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