The first Grand Slam of 2022 is underway following days of twists and turns surrounding the participation of defending champion Novak Djokovic. In order to compete at the Australian Open players must have received a Covid-19 vaccination or qualify for a ‘special exemption’. It is believed that Djokovic is still unvaccinated and had applied for an exemption after it emerged he tested positive for coronavirus in December. However, the Wimbledon Champion was deported back to Serbia on Monday afternoon after an Australian court ruling rejected his visa application.
The absence of Djokovic leaves the door open for Rafael Nadal to move ahead of the Serb and Roger Federer in the all-time rankings. The three greats are tied on 20 Grand Slams each but with neither Djokovic & Federer set to play in Melbourne Nadal has the chance to capitalise. The Spaniard won his first round match against American Marcos Giron in straight sets 6-1 6-4 6-2.
There was disappointment for British No 1 Cameron Norrie after he was soundly beaten by rising prospect Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-0 6-4. Even though it was considered a difficult opening match for Norrie he will be extremely disappointed with his performance after a promising end to 2021.
US Open Champion Emma Raducanu gets her tournament underway on Tuesday when she meets Sloane Stephens. She will be hoping to improve on a difficult warm up event after she suffered a heavy defeat to Elena Rybakina. Stephens will be a tricky opening match for Raducanu who is former US Champion herself after claiming the Grand Slam in 2017.