Tuesday at Melbourne Park featured matches left and right for viewers to sift through on a chaotic order of play. Yet, on Day 3 Down Under a trio of highly-anticipated returns to tournament action stood out. All three of the notable players would ultimately find ways to shine in the limelight.
WTA No. 1 Ashleigh Barty had the luxury of participating in an exhibition at Adelaide at the end of last week and playing a doubles match with Jennifer Brady on Sunday. Playing her first tour-level singles match since losing to Petra Kvitova in the Doha semifinals on February 28, 2020, Barty was solid throughout her 6-3 6-3 victory over Ana Bogdan. The 24-year-old didn’t face a break point until the final game of the match, where she overcame three double faults when serving out the clash to advance in x minutes.
"I thought I was able to stick to the idea of what we wanted to do, stick to our game plan of what we wanted to do tonight to try and dissect Ana's game as best as we could," Barty assessed. "I thought it was solid throughout the whole night. Of course there are always things I'm looking to improve after every match, after every performance. But without a doubt, happy with how it went tonight."
Kyrgios d. Muller, Murray River Open
Like Barty, Nick Kyrgios hadn’t stepped foot at a tournament since last February in Acapulco, where he retired down 6-3 to Ugo Humbert. He found himself in a hole against Alexandre Muller, before turning the tide to send their encounter into a third set. Though Kyrgios relinquished his break advantage and was forced to battle it out in a decisive tie-break, the No. 13 seed claimed the final three points, including the last two on return, to prevail, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
"After the first set I could have panicked... because I know what would have happened. If I lost that, maybe it would have blown up everything," Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference. "So I'm actually happy [with] the way I dealt with it and I just drew from experience. I was nice to myself. I was like, 'Look, you lost a set, your first set back and you're playing a guy who has nothing to lose really.' He came out swinging. He actually played all right. I actually think that he would have beaten a fair few guys in the draw today."
It’s never easy playing a friend, and for Iga Swiatek, that was the added challenge she was handed in her debut as a Grand Slam champion. Appearing for the first time since triumphing over Sofia Kenin at the French Open and competing with a new racquet frame, the 19-year-old recovered nicely after falling behind a set to Kaja Juvan. The sixth seed turned on the heat to surge past the Slovenian, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, setting a third-round meeting with No. 9 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.