Rafael Nadal begins his defence of his Australian Open title with a tie against Jack Draper in Melbourne on Monday….
Rafael Nadal begins his defence of his Australian Open title with a tie against Jack Draper in Melbourne on Monday.
Nadal staged a remarkable recovery from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev in an unforgettable final last year, and the 36-year-old will put the trophy on the line against rising star Draper in the Rod Laver Arena.
In winning the title here 12 months ago, the Spaniard broke the all-time men’s major singles titles record, landing his second Australian Open crown and becoming the most successful player in the modern era.
Nadal, who went on to claim a 14th French title later in the year, returns Down Under as the number one seed and in search of Grand Slam title number 23.
Fitness, however, remains a concern for Nadal as he enters the new calendar year and he has lost both matches contested in 2023 so far.
Both Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur came from a set behind to defeat Rafa in the recent United Cup, and Nadal will be keen to avoid an unwanted hat-trick and what would be only a second opening round exit in Melbourne since 2004.
He starts out against a fearless youngster flying the flag for Great Britain in what will be their first meeting.
Draper, 21, is gearing up for the biggest match of his career so far as he bids to pull off a seismic shock on his debut in the main draw.
The world number 40 reached the Second Round of Wimbledon and the Third Round of the US Open in a breakthrough 2022, notably defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime at Flushing Meadows.
A former Juniors finalist at Wimbledon, Draper also has pedigree on hard court, having defeated both Auger-Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas on this surface.
The left-hander warmed up for the main event with an impressive run to the Semi-Finals in Adelaide last week, losing out to Kwon Soon-woo in a gruelling two hour and 45 minute battle.
The match gets under way from approximately 3.30am GMT and will be available to watch live online via the link below.
Either Brandon Nakashima or Mackenzie McDonald will await the winner in the Second Round later in the week.
How to watch Nadal v Draper live stream
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