Day-9 of the 2022 Australian Open Tournament delivered on exceptional tennis in the first set of Quarter-Finals. While the woman’s draw was more concise, the men had to dig deep in the Rod Laver Arena.

Australian Open Day-9

Madison Keys was the first American to go through to the semis, and in doing so also served up a massive upset. The World No. 51 cut down fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova with ease.

The first seed, Ashleigh Barty was on a whole different level. The Australian put on an exhibition in front of her home crowd, sending the Jessica Pegula packing in a little over an hour. The 21st seeded American won just two games before crashing out.

Over in the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal lost grip of his Quarter-Final bout with Denis Shapovalov. The 35-year old Nadal took the first two sets comfortably but came insanely close to packing his back. The veteran lost some of his magic during sets three and four. Luckily he managed to pull himself back together.

Matteo Berrettini also almost lost the plot in his draw against Gaël Monfils. Monfils came back from two sets down to draw the match level. The Italian could however hold out for a history-making win in the early morning hours in Melbourne.

A breeze for the ladies

Madison Keys continued an impressive run of wins to claim the first semi-final spot at Melbourne Park. Keys, a former world No. 5 has dropped just the one set during #AusOpen2022. That coming in the Third Round against China’s Wang Qiang.

Barbora Krejcikova was expected to end the Illinoisan’s streak. However, the Czech became the 10th consecutive victim of Keys, losing 6-3 and 6-2.

The 26-year old is just a couple of wins away from an evasive first Grand Slam title. And don’t discount her just yet, her form is on the up.

“It means a lot. Last year was really hard and I did really everything I could with my team in the off-season to re-set,” said an emotional Keys after her win.

“I’m really proud of myself.”

Keys reached her maiden semi-final in 2015, at the age of 20 at the Australian Open. She went on to lose to compatriot, and eventual champion Serena Williams.

The first penultimate battle in the Woman’s draw will be a huge one. Although the local will be the favourite to progress.

Ash Barty in action at Australian Open 2022

Australian hopeful, Ashleigh Barty has her sights set on a first Grand Slam title in her backyard. She can become the first Australian Woman’s player to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978. Now, on her ninth time of trying, Barty looks poised to go all the way. She progressed to the last-four with a ruthless 6-2 and 6-0 win over Jessica Pegula.

“That was solid tonight,” Said the World No. 1.

“I was able to serve and find a lot of forehands in the centre of the court and I was happy to take the game on; be aggressive off my forehand, not worry if I miss a couple

as long as I’m doing the right thing, and I felt like I was able to do that the whole match.”

A battle amongst the boys

In the Men’s draw at the 2022 Australian Open tournament, the two quarter-finals played out like carbon copies of each other. Two five-set thrillers producing scintillating Tennis.

The Spanish Giant, Rafael Nadal had a huge quarter-final draw today. He had to get past Canadian Denis Shapovalov. While the sixth seed started the match oozing class, he let Shapovalov back into the game. Luckily Rafa channelled energy from somewhere to win 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 and 6-3.

Rafael Nadal in action at Australian Open 2022

After finding success on the court, the one time winner of the Major Down Under confirmed that he lost his mojo through the course of the match.

“I started to feel bad honestly at the end of the second,” said Nadal.

“It was very warm out there today and the conditions were hard. I think of course all these kind of matches helps me to be in better shape, but we can’t forget that I didn’t play much tennis for such a long time, no? So under these very hard conditions, is difficult for me.”

The Italian, Matteo Berrettini almost suffered the same fate as Nadal. Going two sets up before almost losing the plot completely. Although in this case, Matteo didn’t shut down, it’s Gaël Monfils who booted up. Luckily for the Italian, the Frenchman couldn’t deal the final blow.

The seventh seed, Berrettini held his nerve to claim a massive 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6 and 6-2 victory and is the first Italian man to reach this stage of the Australian Open.

The disappearing Djoker

With it being a Novak-less 2022 Australian Open Tournament, the door is open for Rafael Nadal to make history. The Spaniard could become the first man to win 21 Major titles. Djokovic has been flirting with that achievement since winning at Wimbledon last year. However, his antics earlier this month could cost him the chance of becoming the most successful Men’s player. The current World No.1 might also miss out on a shot at winning Roland Garros.

It’s still a long way to go for Rafa and there’s a big semi-final on the cards.

Both South Africans in the Australian Open men’s singles draw, Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris fell at the first hurdle. Though their stay in Melbourne exceeded that of Novak Djokovic, it was a very disappointing showing by our hopefuls.

Harris first to fall

World No.32 Lloyd Harris became the first seeded player to bow out of the Tournament at Melbourne Park. The 24-year old expected to cruise through to the second round with Wildcard Aleksandar Vukic his challenger first up. However, the Capetonian couldn’t get the upperhand. It also didn’t help Harris playing an inspired Aussie first up.

Vukic, who hails from Sydney, was heavily backed by the home crowd. That energy fed the world number-144, who fought back to claim a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 and 7-6 (7-3) win over the 30th seed Harris in nearly three hours. This is the biggest win in the underdogs’ career, and he becomes the first Aussie player to move on to the next round.

The Sydneysider will next face Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot, and will potentially go on to face 3rd seed Alexander Zverev.

Harris will meanwhile team up with Australia’s Alexei Popyrin for potential Doubles success. Both Harris and the other Capetonian competing in the Doubles draw, Raven Klaasen, start their campaign on Wednesday (19 January 2022).

Unlucky draw for Anderson

The 35-year old Anderson, who dropped to an ATP ranking of 100, had a tougher draw. The 23rd seed American Reily Opelka made light work of the Saffa, using up only one hour and 46 minutes of his day. 6-3, 6-4 and 7-6 (7-3) was the result on Melbourne Park’s Court 15.

The 24-year old Opelka will face German Dominik Koepfer next, after the World number 105 beat Spaniard Carlos Taberner 6-1, 6-6, 6-4 and 6-1.

Novak Djokovic is free to leave his immigration detention hotel with immediate effect. This comes after the Federal Circuit Court overruled the original decision to have his visa cancelled. The world number-1 will have his passport returned to him, and must be released immediately.

Trolls embitter proceedings

It’s been a frustrating day for everyone involved in the hearing. There were connection issues and when that was resolved, trolls infiltrated the public Microsoft Teams meeting. Users flooded the meeting, with some claiming to be members of the Serbian press. The cyberbullies played folk music, as well as pornographic videos.

After all of the disruptions, Judge Anthony Kelly ordered the government to release Djokovic from hotel quarantine within 30-minutes of his ruling. The Australian Circuit Court Judge also reinstated the 9-time Australian Open champion’s visa.

It’s not over just yet

Though the ruling was in favour of the vaccine-hesitant tennis star, he could still face deportation. Government lawyer Christopher Tran confirmed that the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, “will consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation.”

That could see Novak Djokovic again face immigration detention and deportation.

The 34-year old is unvaccinated and was not given the assurance of entry into Australia without being fully inoculated. Government Lawyers confirmed as much in their court findings ahead of the hearing.

Djokovic’s legal team meanwhile broke the news that he tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16, and argued that he met the requirements for quarantine free travel into Australia. They further confirmed that Djokovic had not had a fever or any respiratory symptoms in the 72-hours leading up to his medical exemption application.

Covid controversy

The news of Novak’s Covid-19 infection also ignited controversy online. This comes after the Serbian made public appearances around the same time as his positive PCR test. On 14 December he attended a Euroleague Basketball game. He sat courtside without a mask.

Just a couple of days later, he received a commemorative stamp in his honour at an event hosted by the Serbian National Postal Service.