ATP

Murray suffers early-season blow but Nadal roars back with doubles win

By Sports Desk January 04, 2022

Andy Murray stumbled out of the Melbourne Summer Set tournament after a first-round defeat to Argentinian Facundo Bagnis.

In his opening ATP Tour match of the year, three-time grand slam winner Murray slipped up 6-3 5-7 6-3 against Bagnis, a player who began the year with a 30-59 win-loss career record.

Left-hander Bagnis rose to the occasion on Rod Laver Arena to earn the scalp of the former world number one.

Murray, down at 134th in the rankings after another injury-hit year, is looking to make headway on that front in 2022 under new coach Jan de Witt, so that he can avoid having to take wildcards into tournaments.

He was allowed into this tournament by that back-door route, and has also been confirmed for an Australian Open wildcard, but the Scot could not find the form that saw him beat Rafael Nadal at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in late December.

Bagnis said of his win: "In the beginning it was a pleasure to play against Andy and right now to beat him is amazing. I'm really happy."

He added, according to the tournament website: "Yesterday, I came to see the stadium, to see it all around because the atmosphere is different when you play on any court outside… I enjoyed it a lot. It was so good for me."

Nadal was also back in action on Tuesday, playing his first match on the main tour since August as he teamed up with fellow Spaniard Jaume Munar for a doubles win.

A foot injury meant Nadal's 2021 season ended early, but he warmed up for singles tests that lie ahead by joining Munar for a 6-3 3-6 10-4 win over Argentinians Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

At the Adelaide International 1 tournament, there was a notable first-round win on Tuesday for Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who saw off compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-3.

Kokkinakis, a major talent as a youngster, is battling to reassert himself on tour after injury troubles, and beating Millman put his name up in lights for at least one day.

He reflected afterwards on the battle it has taken so far, with last year spent largely living out of a suitcase on the second-tier Challenger Tour.

"It was a gruelling year travelling," said Kokkinakis. "I've played a couple of times [in Adelaide] but just in exhibitions, so to play a real meaningful tournament and beat such a quality opponent, a proven veteran like Johnny, means a lot. I played great, and the support was great, so I'm really happy."

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    Swiatek won the first and only grand slam title of her career at Roland Garros in 2020, and of the 19 matches she has now played at the French Open, the 20-year-old has won 17.

    That feat ranks her just behind Margaret Court, Chris Evert and Monica Seles for the number of wins from their first 19 matches at Roland Garros in the Open Era.

    Evert, Seles and 24-time grand slam winner Court managed 18 victories from that number of matches.

    Swiatek was beaten by Maria Sakkari at the quarter-final stage in Paris last year.

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    Playing early on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday, the top seed made ultimately got past the world number 95 Kovinic in straight sets, though the Montenegrin did not go down without a fight.

    Kovinic took all three break points that Swiatek offered up, with two of those coming in the second set, halting what seemed set to be a procession for the favourite.

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    The final game of Kovinic's streak was settled by a poor Swiatek backhand into the net as the 20-year-old saw the momentum swing the way of her opponent, who was frustrating the world number one with some sublime drop shots.

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    It was an opportunity Swiatek grasped, and though Kovinic fended off the first match point with a powerful forehand, a return straight into the net confirmed her exit.

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    Swiatek – 13/23
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