‘Rafael Nadal had a difficult end to the season because…’, says former star

Jack Draper was beaten a week ago at the Adelaide International 1 by Karen Khachanov in straight sets. And this Thursday he was able to beat him thanks to a brilliant performance at the Adelaide International 2 to get a quick revenge. The 21-year-old Briton’s 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph allows him to qualify for the second time in the semifinals on the ATP Tour. The No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings saved the only break point he faced until he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. The frustration did not last long and he was finally able to close the one hour and 45 minute match in the tie-break. “At 5-4 I got a little nervous, but that’s part of the game,” said the lefty in his on-court interview. “I’m still young, I’m still learning about these things.” Khachenov had defeated Draper seven days earlier in Adelaide, but the 21-year-old Briton turned the tables impressively, leading to his third victory over a top-20 ranked opponent. Today’s victory followed victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal and Felix Auger-Aliassime at the US Open. Draper raised his ranking from world No. 262 to No. 40 in a breakout 2022 season, the Adelaide semifinal marking his third ATP semifinal appearance in the past six months. “Against guys like Karen, you can’t give them an inch. Otherwise they run away,” Draper said after earning his first ATP Head2Head win in three tries against Khachanov. A few minutes after his victory, it became known that the British would be Rafael Nadal’s first opponent in the first round of the Australian Open. Draper entered this week with the highest ranking of his career in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. One more win would see him rise to at least No. 38 in the rankings. The lefty will be the favorite in his semifinal matchup against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who beat Sweden’s Mikael Ymer 6-1, 6-2.

Nadal will debut against Draper

As always at the microphone of Eurosport, Justine Henin placed Rafael Nadal among the title contenders at the Australian Open despite his current form because the man with 22 Grand Slam titles has proven throughout his career and even more these years that it could surprise all observers. “Today everyone has a lot of questions about Rafael Nadal, who continues to find resources year after year. Rafa said he was not in a rebuilding phase and it should not be exaggerated either, but he had a difficult end to the season when he became a dad. Last year he surprised us. Will he be able to do it again when we know that it is the Grand Slam that has always been the most difficult for him? He did it last year.”