Match Point from Adelaide & Melbourne

Thanasi Kokkinakis deep run in Adelaide

There isn’t many better sights in tennis than watching Thanasi Kokkinakis play but play in front of a home crowd. He has a wonderful connection with the Australian fans and the Aussie who picked up a wildcard for Adelaide this week.

His run ended in the semi-finals but should be very happy with what he has done this week. He opened against a tough opponent and fellow Aussie, John Milan winning 6-4 6-3. Next up was Frances Tiafoe who ended 2021 in good form but Thanasi fought incredible hard from 3-6 down and won a close second set 7-5 before going onto win 6-1 in the third before winning another marathon against Michael Ymer.

Top seed Gael Monfils was a different test but still signifying a very good week for Thanasi who should be super proud of his run.

Welcome back Naomi Osaka

The opening brought a smile to many faces around the world seeing Naomi Osaka back on court and importantly a smile on hers. Naomi who has won two titles in Melbourne won three matches on the bounce and you could see that sharpness coming back into her game.

Sadly that was the end of the road for Naomi as she withdrew from her semi-final with Viktoria Kurdermetova as a precaution but withdrawing from tournaments before winning a major is not usual for Naomi.

Four months without playing? It feels like Ash has never been away.

If you didn’t know that Ash Barty hadn’t played since the US Open you would’ve of known on the back of her performances in Adelaide.

The World No.1 looks stronger than ever and playing with a confidence unmatched on the tour right now and she’s rarely played until this week. It was a stacked draw and to win against Coco Gauff, Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek to make the final deserves a lot of credit, Ash also teamed up with Storm Sanders in the doubles making it to the finals of the singles and the doubles.

Ash made quick work of her time in Adelaide, eight consecutive sets to win the title having dropped her first of the tournament and stopped Rybakina playing her game to win her 14th career title.

A strong start for Simona Halep

In a preview piece for the season I said this is new for Simona Halep, her lowest ranking for some time but it might work out for her and can certainly go down as ‘so far so good’ for the Romanian.

I’m very happy to see Halep playing well to begin her season, her game rallies on her defensive work and those attacking groundstrokes being on the same level. Simona makes shots most of us can only dream of and there seems to be a determined focus in her mindset on court.

She has a great personality and it rubs off in her game, she knows how she is doing mid-match and what needs improving, even if her serve is “s**t” (her own words) she fights and wins. People will make the point she hasn’t had to play top players but you can only play who is in front of you, you can’t win other players’ matches or define their schedule.

I’m very pleased for Simona to win her first title of the season and we will have to wait and see what else the season has in store.

Vika impresses to kick off her season

I think Vika will come away from Adelaide content with how her season begun, she teamed up with Badosa to play a couple of matches in doubles and defeated her doubles partner 6-3 6-2 with a strong performance to begin her campaign. Vika saw off Hon in straight sets but lost a three set battle to Swiatek.

She will want to bring her best to Melbourne where I wouldn’t rule out a third title for her as she finished her year well and looks in good form.

A shorter 2021, a long off-season, Amanda’s finding form to kick off 2022 with hopes of a new coach…

Amanda has been through a tough time, I am so pleased for her to be playing well to begin the season. She cut her season short and has struggled with getting results but we know when she’s at her best she is soo tough to stop.

She is only 20, won her first title at the age of 17 and has impressed at the majors so there is time and this could be a really big season for her. In Melbourne at the Gippsland Trophy this week she has been playing very well battling hard in matches and playing with a smile on her face.

In the final the American was up against the tough Sasnovich and she had to dig deepen the third set from 0-3 down winning six of the last seven games to claim her second career title and first since 2019, a big confidence booster to kick off the season.

Amanda has had a new voice in her camp for a few weeks and is hoping to make Simona Halep’s coach Darren Cahill a permanent fixture in the team:

French qualifier Maxime Cressy’s saved match points on his way to his maiden ATP final!

Maxime had only played a handful of tour level matches before this week for the qualifier from France. In round two Maxime saw off Reilly Opelka (saving two match points) followed by Jaume Munar and then a 7-5 7-6 win over Grigor Dimitrov to set up a final against Rafael Nadal.

The serve and volley of Maxime had been fascinating throughout the week and was so in a competitive final with Nadal which the Spaniard won 7-6 6-3.

Maxime would have been in qualifying for the Australian Open but Dominic Thiem’s withdrawal means the 24 year old will be a direct entrant to the first major of the year.

Monfils & Nadal wins opening week titles

Gael Monfils and Rafael Nadal both made the finals of the events in Adelaide and Melbourne respectively extending their respective runs to 18 consecutive years having made an ATP Final and Nadal at 19 consecutive years in an ATP Final and they won.

The Frenchman was the top seed in Adelaide and defeated the second seed Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-4 for his title in Australia, Nadal also won in straight sets with a 7-6 6-3 win over qualifier Maxime Cressy.

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