Since his present coach, Carlos Moya, defeated Boris Becker 25 years ago, Rafael Nadal never seemed in danger of being the first defending men’s champion at the Australian Open to fall in the first round.
Even still, Nadal’s performance on Monday against Jack Draper, 21, was not particularly strong. He had lost six of his previous seven matches overall and was 0-2 in 2023. Nadal found himself even at one set apiece after nearly two hours of mediocre tennis.
On an afternoon with a temperature of approximately 85 degrees, he seemed to be pulling away and taking advantage of his opponent’s cramping problem when all of a sudden, Draper went up by a break in the fourth set. From that point on, though, Nadal would not lose another game, starting his quest for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title with a victory in Rod Laver Arena that took more than 3 1/2 hours: 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“I need a victory, so that’s the main thing,” Nadal said. “Doesn’t matter the way.”
That’s fortunate because the 36-year-old Spaniard wasn’t at his best. Overall, it was a little tricky. Despite this, he tried to see the bright side, given his recent performance and the fact that he had torn his abdominal muscles twice in the previous six months.
- US Begins Training Ukrainian Forces In Germany In Possible Escalation!
- Search Continues For Missing 4-Year-Old Oklahoma Girl
“I was humble enough to accept that (there were) going to be a few ups and downs during the match,” Nadal said. “(That’s a) typical when you are not in a winning mood.”
The only fundamental similarity between the two men—whether in appearance, age, life experience, or accomplishments—is that they are both left-handed.
As the top seed due to Carlos Alcaraz’s injury withdrawal, Nadal is participating in his 67th Grand Slam competition. Draper played in his fourth major and was currently rated No. 38 worldwide. His finest performance came when he advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open in September of last year.
Draper has also struggled to perform in humid environments. In his ATP Tour debut at the Miami Open in March 2021, he passed out on the court and had to stop playing after just one set.
It was a true honor to compete against my childhood hero. It’s remarkable to compete against him on a large court like that, Draper remarked. “I can accept the reality that I’m getting better at tennis. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still developing physically.
This time, symptoms appeared earlier, and Draper received treatment from a trainer during substitutions. Later, he massaged several spots on his right leg.
Unsurprisingly, Nadal wore Draper down from the baseline by exchanging blows with him before finding a gap to rip a powerful forehand in either direction.
“When you win matches, you are more relaxed,” Nadal said. “You are more confident.”
His following opponent will be Mackie McDonald, a former NCAA champion at UCLA who defeated Brandon Nakashima in an all-American match that lasted four hours by scores of 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-7 (10), and 6-4.
Iga Swiatek, the top-seeded woman, entered Laver after Rafael Nadal for the evening session and found herself in a close second set before winning the final four games to beat Jule Niemeier, who was ranked 69th, 6-4, 7-5.
In addition to Madison Keys, who advanced in three sets, other Americans Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff, and Danielle Collins—the 2022 runner-up at Melbourne Park—also went to the second round on Monday. Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, Emma Raducanu, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, and sixth-seeded Maria Sakkari all advanced, and Victoria Azarenka defeated 2020 winner Sofia Kenin 6-4, 7-6 to advance (3).
On the jam-packed Day 1 schedule, there were many more notable champions, including Petra Kvitova, Elena Rybakina, Jelena Ostapenko, and Barbora Krejcikova. Stan Wawrinka, however, exited the tournament after losing to Alex Molcan by scores of 6-7 (3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (2), and 6-4.
The biggest shock of the day occurred off the court with Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios’ retirement due to a left knee injury that requires surgery.
Australian Kyrgios, 27, who won the men’s doubles title at Melbourne Park last year, said, “I’m upset.
No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz, No. 16 Frances Tiafoe, and No. 20 Denis Shapovalov were among the men who advanced. The 2021 U.S. Open champion and the last two years’ runner-up in Melbourne, Daniil Medvedev, defeated American Marcos Giron 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.
The No. 3-seeded Pegula defeated Jaqueline Cristian of Romania 6-0, 6-1 in 59 minutes, the No. 7 Gauff defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 6-4, and the No. 13 Collins defeated Anna Kalinskaya 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 despite having her left knee massaged and bandaged.
In the semifinals, Pegula and Gauff might face off, and Collins and Swiatek might square off in the fourth round.
Pegula, who has advanced to the quarterfinals in Melbourne each of the previous two years, said, “Today is just one of those days everything was working.” It’s always satisfying to triumph in a contest like that. When those times arise, I believe you should accept them without complaining or offering criticism. You merely proceed to the next one. Keep yourself updated with all the latest news from our website Newswatchlist.com and get all the recent updates.