Rafael Nadal began his Australian Open title defense on Monday by passing a great test against Jack Draper. The first-seeded Spaniard advanced, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 at Rod Laver Arena against the 21-year-old Briton, who nevertheless put the 22-title champion in a lot of trouble of grand slams. “It has been a very positive start if we take my last six months as a reference,” said Nadal in his interview on the track. “He has a great future: he is young and dangerous, with a lot of punch.” Draper kept the tone in a close first set, which Nadal took for details in the final stretch, and won the second clearly, reaching a 4-0 lead and break point for 5-0. In his first ATP Head2Head meeting against the Spaniard, Draper had some very bright moments against world No.2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, making things very difficult for him on the day of his debut in the tournament. With a set each, Nadal went up a gear and Draper held on, even with physical problems in his right thigh. In any case, it was impossible for the Briton, who fought until the end, starting the fourth set with a break in his favor that he could not maintain before ending up saying goodbye to the Spaniard. “For me it was not a bad game,” insisted the Spaniard. “I knew it would be up and down, but I need wins. I have had a very positive attitude. When you are in a positive dynamic, everything worries you less, you know that you can move things forward,” he continued. “That’s why the most important thing today was to win. I give myself the opportunity to play another game again”. Nadal entered the Australian Open on a six-game losing streak in his last seven matches, including the two he played in the United Cup at the start of the 2023 season.
Nadal will lock horns with Mackenzie McDonald
Rafael Nadal booked his spot in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open. “Not distracting, just a funny situation. But normally, I have the number of the racquets under control, so I say, I need the string,” Nadal said. “But I need the string to other racquet, he picked the racquet that I was ready to play [with]. But well, just an anecdote, yeah. No problem at all.” Rafael Nadal will lock horns with Mackenzie McDonald. “I think it’s only cramping what happened at the end to him. Hopefully is nothing important. But I think he is in the right position to have a very productive season. I am happy that I was able to win against a great player this afternoon,” he added.