Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, defeated a man 15-years his junior to kickstart his bid for a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title at Monday’s Australian Open. The Spanish top seed unleashed his trademark hammer forehands and 46 unforced mistakes before taking out Briton Jack Draper 7-5 in blistering heat at Rod Laver Arena.
He was able to reach the second round for the 17th consecutive time, extending his win-loss record at Melbourne Park up to 77-15. Next, he will play Mackenzie Mcdonald. He defeated fellow American Brandon Nakashima during a five-set thriller. “Super happy to be back in Australia once more. He said that it’s the 19th season of professional touring and that he is very excited about the new beginning.
“It was a win I needed. In the first round, I faced one of the most difficult opponents. He is young and has the potential to be a big player. It was hard work for the 36-year old, who had lost six of his seven previous matches, including his first two this year. They were separated in a first set that Little made famous for Nadal’s bizarre complaint about one of his racquets being missing.
He kept his cool, waited for his chance. It came at 6-5 on Draper’s serve. Nadal was unable to focus during the second set, as Draper raised the level of his game and raced up to a 4-0 lead. Draper won the set. The Spaniard rallied and broke in the third set, moving 4-1 ahead. He won the long rallies. Draper required repeated treatment for his right leg. But, despite all odds, he was able to get back up before Nadal came back. Draper clearly was in distress, glancing in pain at times. Nadal did not show any mercy and raced through the fourth set to victory.
With his five-set win over Daniil Medvedev, Nadal made history last year on the same court. He was able to claim the record for Grand Slam men’s singles titles with 21. This is ahead of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Roger Federer. He also added a 22nd at Roland Garros while Djokovic won Wimbledon, to make it 21. Nadal’s 2022 Melbourne run was without Djokovic (9-time champion), who returned this year and starts his campaign on Tuesday.