Australian Open Day 3: Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Rafael Nadal surge into Round 3

·4 min read

Day 3 of the Australian Open is in the books, and it saw nearly all of the top seeded players make it past their competitors to land in Round 3. There were some struggles, but all this strong tennis is a good sign for the remaining Round 2 matches on Thursday. If this trend continues, we're going to see some excellent tennis when Round 3 gets underway on Friday.

No sweat for Barty, Nadal

Ashleigh Barty got one step closer to winning her homeland's greatest tennis title on Wednesday, easily handling qualifier Lucia Bonzetti 6-1, 6-1 in a match that lasted all of 52 minutes. Barty has won the French Open and Wimbledon, but has never won the Aussie Open. If she keeps playing like this, that could change by the end of the month.

Rafael Nadal also had no trouble dispatching Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Despite his historic pedigree, Nadal is on the comeback trail after injuries derailed him during the 2021 season. He already appears to be in fine form and is zipping around the court in classic Rafa style.

Naomi Osaka handled her opponent, Madison Brengle, in straight sets, but it wasn't entirely straightforward. She cruised in the first set, winning 6-0, but Brengle came back strong in the second set and put up a fight, matching Osaka game for game until close to the end. Best of all for Osaka, who struggled with mental health issues last year, she seems to be enjoying herself.

Other members of the men's and women's Top 10 also handled their business on Wednesday. Maria Sakkari defeated Qinwen Zheng 6-1, 6-4, and Barbora Krejcikova defeated Xiyu Wang 6-2, 6-3. Alexander Zverev won 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 over Australian John Millman, while Matteo Berrettini needed an extra set to beat Stefan Kozlov 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts on a point against Madison Brengle of the US during the women's singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2022. - -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by Martin KEEP / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka is playing well at the Australian Open, and looks to be having fun while doing it. (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

Just a few upsets

In sharp contrast to several of 2021's Grand Slams, the early rounds of the Australian Open have been mostly upset-free. The Top 5 of both the women's and men's fields (or Top 6 for the men due to Novak Djokovic's deportation) are still intact, but the men's Top 10 saw their first loss of the tournament on Wednesday.

Hubert Hurkacz, seeded 10th, lost to Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. The 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist started strong against the unseeded Mannarino, but an unforced error allowed Mannarino to get a crucial break in the first set, and Hurkacz wasn't able to recover.

The women's Top 10 remains without a loss (for now), but a notable name seeded at 22 did make her exit unexpectedly early. Belinda Bencic, a quarterfinalist at last year's US Open, lost to Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 7-5. Bencic managed to rebound nicely from a disastrous first set, matching Anisimova through the second set, but couldn't push herself over the line after getting to a 5-5 tie.

Gael Monfils is back

The No. 1 French player on the men's tour, 35-year-old Gael Monfils, has been surging through the first two rounds. The No. 17 seed hasn't dropped a set yet, and on Wednesday beat Alexander Bublik 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 in a dominating performance. It's a complete turnaround from the Monfils we saw a year ago, who crashed out in the first round and called the whole experience a "nightmare" in a tearful press conference.

That Monfils is nowhere to be found. Instead the crowd got to watch the improved 2022 version of Monfils, who is clearly feeling great and bringing the fire.

Monfils will face his first seeded opponent of the tournament, No. 16 Cristian Garin, on Friday.

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