One hundred nine minutes. Rafael Nadal needs so much to cross the line of seventy victories at the Australian Open and to remain unbeaten in the first round after seventeen years. The first confrontation with Marcos Giron, who has yet to win a match in the main draw of the Slam down under, was poor in twists.
The very Spanish champion - who with the first ball available leaves just seven points on the street - cancels the only two break points that he puts on the American tennis player's plate, as per protocol he dominates the confrontation-direct from the baseline and some difficulties condense it only in the second.
set. Even if in reality he breaks the equilibrium at the start and a handful of set points also gets them at 5-3. In short: the final 6-1 6-4 6-3 also leaves little room for interpretation: in the second round there could be Thanasi Kokkinakis, called Yannick Hanfmann to the test after the success in Adelaide.
Matteo Berrettini beats Brandon Nakashima and stomach problems. The highest seeded remaining at the top of the scoreboard - obviously given the absence of Novak Djokovic - actually needs overtime to jot down American talent in the Melbourne Park victims' notebook.
After a first set 'contract', the number one in the Italy group considerably limits the number of unforced errors and controls prolonged exchanges with more authority. Berrettini, who wastes a chance in response in the fifth game, is forced to ask for the intervention of the doctor and above all to cancel two set points at 4-5.
Presumably having overcome the most complicated of obstacles, the Roman dominates the tie break and puts his head forward. Over? Not at all. Forced to escape to the bathroom after three games, Berrettini manages to catch the decisive break and despite the difficulties in archiving the practice with a very complicated 4-6 6-2 7-6 (3) 6-3.
Nadal on his most recent comeback
Rafael Nadal considers his return to the ATP Tour in 2022 the hardest comeback he has attempted in his career so far. Speaking at a press conference after his 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory, the 20-time Grand Slam champion spoke about the conditions surrounding his most recent comeback.
"When you get a little bit older, all the comebacks are tougher," Nadal said. "This has been especially difficult because it is not only a comeback from an injury, it's a comeback trying to be back on the tour after almost two years of not playing many events with the virus.
If you remember in 2020 I only played here and Acapulco, then I just played in Rome, Roland Garros, Paris and London. Six events. In 2021 I played just here and then it was clay - Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros.
Washington, yeah. Another six events," Nadal said. He added that he was also enjoying the tennis he was playing at the moment and that he would try his best to keep progressing down under. "12 events in two years is not many. If we add that I was not able to practice very often too, it's really tough.
But here I am. I am super happy about all the work that I have done to try to be back. I am here enjoying the tennis, and that's it. I'm going to keep trying hard."