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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday January 17, 2022

Day 3 of the Australian Open kicks off top half second round action, with Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty and other top names in action, plus a popcorn battle between Gael Monfils and Alexander Bublik.

Tennis Express

Barty and Osaka back in action.

All eyes have been on top-seeded Ash Barty and two-time defending champion Naomi Osaka from the moment the draw was released in Australia, and that will not change on Day 3. Two more wins for each player and we get a heavily anticipated round of 16 clash between the powerhouses (the pair have split four matches but have not met since 2019).

See the Day 3 Aussie Open Schedule Here:

For now, we wait and see if both players can continue producing the torrid tennis they put on display on Monday. Barty, who was absolutely flawless in her 6-0, 6-1 takedown over Lesia Tsurenko on Monday, will face Italian wild card Lucia Bronzetti.

Osaka, who eased past feisty Colombian Camila Osorio 3 and 3, will take on American Madison Brengle.

Nadal catching a wave

20-time major champion Rafael Nadal is starting to find his form in Melbourne. Now riding a five-match win streak and already with a title in tow in 2022 (his whopping 89th!), Nadal awaits German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in round two.

Nadal’s 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over American Marcos Giron left the legendary Spaniard feeling a tad more sanguine about his form – and his chances – in Australia.

“A good start,” Nadal opined after notching his 70th career Australian Open win. “I played some good tennis out there today, yeah. I can't complain much. I did things well, probably a lot of things better than last week. I have to keep going. As I said, is day by day. Today was a good start.”

Overall Nadal is still reticent to announce himself at 100 percent peak form. He says he needs time to hit his stride after a five-month absence caused by a foot issue last season. Before his title run at Melbourne, he had not played on tour since last August.

“What really helps is spend hours on court playing and practicing with the best players,” Nadal said. “I need time on the tour. Of course, playing official matches without a doubt, but at the same time practicing with the best players, too. That's what I need today to try to recover the level that I need to fight for the things that I want and be healthy. If that happens, I hope to keep having chances to keep going and fight for the [biggest titles].”

Belinda Bencic v Amanda Anisimova

One of the second-round matches will be keying on in the top half of the women’s singles draw pits American Amanda Anisimova against No.22 seeded Belinda Bencic. Bencic, the Tokyo Olympic gold medal winner, won her only meeting with Anisimova in 2019 on grass, but Anisimova is fresh off the Melbourne 2 title, enjoying a new partnership with legendary coach Darren Cahill and riding a six-match winning streak into the second round.

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Gael Monfils is starting to show his best form again in 2022. The pandemic was extremely tough on Lamonf, but he has bided his time, is smiling again, and playing with passion. Watching him claim the Adelaide title two weeks ago, it was easy to see similarities between this Monfils and the Monfils that started the 2020 season at 16-2 and held match points against Novak Djokovic in the Dubai final.

Monfils is 35 now, but still has that fast-twitch working in his favor. It will be exciting to see him play against a showman, and menacing talent, like Bublik on Day 3…

Speaking of menacing, Carlos Alcaraz looked lean and mean in his first-round victory over Alejandro Tabilo. The Spaniard is back in action on Wednesday against Dusan Lajovic, a far more experienced and formidable opponent…. After Coco Gauff fell to Wang Qiang on Day 1, there are no seeded players standing between Madison Keys and week two in Melbourne. Last week’s Adelaide champion will face Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian in second round action… Naomi Osaka isn’t the only two-time champion in action on Day 3 in Melbourne. 24th-seeded Victoria Azarenka will square off against talented sophomore in a first-time meeting that should be compelling.


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