Right now the world needs something to make it smile and bringing the likes of Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic amongst others to a court certainly helps that.
What makes it more special and bittersweet from here in the UK is seeing those packed crowds in Adelaide. It’s absolutely sensational to see and I hope soon we get to a position like this where we can enjoy live sport.
It was a fascinating day and night in Adelaide which saw some big names and big markers laid day. You could argue you cannot read much into it but to get a win over a fellow challenger is priceless and before the Australian Open boosts confidence.
Simona Halep 3-6 6-1 10-8 Ash Barty
Someone who will be happy with the confidence boost going into Melbourne is Simona Halep. The Romanian who recently celebrated a 7th consecutive year in the top ten got off to a shaky start. Down the 2-3 she was broken and Barty ran away with the set from there winning 6-3.
The second set was a complete turnaround as Halep ran away with it winning 6-1. In the early stages the movement and opportunity behind the forehand and defence behind the backhand from missing from the former number one but she found her groove.
In a tight tie-break it was Halep’s forehand painting the baseline pinning Ash Barty back and at 9-8 sealed it with a well constructed point.
Both said after the match how great it was to play a friend and have the crowd there. Simona Halep likened the nerves to playing her first match after being back in front of the crowd.
Rafael Nadal 7-5 6-4 Dominic Thiem
Exhibition of not, Rafael Nadal will be a very happy man!
Sometimes when he comes to Australia there are doubts but he looked sharp. The Spaniard answered questions and had answer to those Dominic Thiem had for him too.
This is a bit of fun but a marker on where both players are at. Nadal was quick behind his forehand and strong at the net.
Dominic Thiem is slightly unpredictable at times but it did feel like he was going at it in Adelaide and it will be interesting to see how he picks things up going forward but it was fantastic to see these two against each other.
The last time Thiem and Nadal battled down under? In the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year which Thiem won in four sets.
Filip Krajinovic & Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3 Jannik Sinner
No, it wasn’t two against one but Jannik Sinner was up against it as he had to face both Krajinovic and Djokovic. Filip was Novak’s practice partner in Adelaide and able to isolate there too.
Jannik Sinner spent the two weeks of isolation being the practice partner to Rafael Nadal.
Sinner who has been super impressive since winning the Next Gen Finals in 2019 was up against it but held his own well despite losing in straight sets to the Serbian duo.
Serena Williams 6-2 2-6 10-7 Naomi Osaka
To see these two incredible women back on the court against each other was worth the wait of the last few months. Serena Williams rocking the pony tail we have not seen for some years was in the groove and out to start her season albeit at an exhibition on the right foot.
Serena found her groove early on and at 3-2 broke the serve of Naomi Osaka to lead 4-2 and quickly sealed the first set 6-2.
Naomi Osaka is never out without a fight, some of her performances over the last few years and comebacks have been priceless. She always seems to find a way and found an immediate break of serve on the Williams game. Serena kept it close at 1-2 but with a bit of luck and exceptional tennis led 5-1 and went onto repay the favour winning the second set 6-2.
The tie-break was close to begin with but it was one way traffic from 5-4 and Serena won the match 6-2 2-6 10-7.