Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Serene to 70: Nadal cruises to Melbourne Park milestone

  • Matt Trollope

Rafael Nadal continued his stellar start to the season, dominating Marcos Giron to advance to the second round of Australian Open 2022.

MORE: All the scores from Day 1 at AO 2022

Nadal posted a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win over the 66th-ranked American to set up a potential second-round blockbuster with Adelaide champion Thanasi Kokkinakis, who faces qualifier Yannick Hanfmann later on Monday.

The encounter at Rod Laver Arena between Nadal and Giron was a clash between two players currently experiencing vastly different fortunes on court.
Giron has not won a set in three losses in Australia to begin the season, while Nadal is yet to drop a set in 2022, having now built a four-match winning streak.

Two weeks ago, Nadal broke through for the Melbourne Summer Set title at Melbourne Park, his first tournament title on Australian soil in 13 years. 

The last came at Australian Open 2009.

It signalled an encouraging return for the 35-year-old Spaniard, who had not competed for five months as a foot injury decimated the back end of his 2021 season.

That encouraging progress continued on Monday, with Nadal completing victory in a brisk one hour, 49 minutes for his 70th match win at Melbourne Park.

"Last week had been important for me. I played three matches, I won three matches. I won a title, it's always beautiful," said Nadal, who finished with 34 winners to Giron's 10. 

"And I think I am doing better and better. You never know what's going on, but I'm happy if you tell me I'm gonna be in this position one month ago, of course without a doubt I would sign the paper (smiling).

"At the beginning (of a comeback), things are going to be difficult, of course you will not have the best feelings sometimes on court. 

"But staying positive, playing with the right energy, and of course being on the tour practising with the guys, and winning matches, for sure helps."

Nadal's comeback took another important step on Monday

Nadal looked sharp from the very first ball, and broke in the fourth game to quickly take control.

His forehand, as is so often the case, was damaging. Averaging more than 3,300 revolutions per minute on the ball compared to around 2,000 for Giron, Nadal's weapon of choice routinely kicked high off the court and out of the strike-zone of his shorter opponent. 

Nadal broke again in the sixth game for a 5-1 lead, allowing Giron just 10 points in a dominant 24-minute first set.

Some rust showed as he attempted to close out the second set, with four set points coming and going in the ninth game as Giron served to stay in it.

But after Nadal took a two-sets-to-love by holding in the following game, he resumed control in the third.

The 20-time major champion broke serve immediately, and later fired a running forehand passing shot winner up the line – his 30th winner of the match – on his way to holding for a 5-1 lead.

Two games later, he faced a break point as he attempted to close out the match, but his serve rose to the occasion. 

Nadal's blazing forehand showed signs of its destructive best

Should Kokkinakis prevail against Hanfmann, Nadal recognised the step-up in firepower that awaited him.

MORE: AO 2022 men's singles draw

"He always have been a fantastic player. I think he's been very unlucky with a lot of injuries. I am really happy to see him back at very high level and probably playing better than ever, so if that (match) happens, it's going to be a big challenge for me," Nadal said of the Australian.

"But that's why I'm here, to face the best players. And Thanasi, with his amazing start of the year, with semifinals and title (in back-to-back Adelaide tournaments) ... it's gonna be a big test.

"I hope to be ready for it, and just enjoy to play here one more time."