Rafael Nadal had to huff and puff his way into the second round of the Australian Open as he defeated Jack Draper in four sets by 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Rod Laver Arena on Monday and thus began his title defense on a high. The Spaniard took the first set as he broke the Briton’s serve in the 12th game of the opening set.
However, Nadal’s serve was broken twice in the second set and it was one-way traffic as Draper served brilliantly. But the youngster started to struggle with cramps in the third set which led to his downfall.
On the other hand, Nadal didn’t hit his top form throughout the match but he was delighted to get his first win of the year, which will give him a lot of confidence.
Recalling his last year’s triumph, Nadal said in his on-court interview, “Last year was without a doubt one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career. I’m super happy to be back here in Australia one more time.”
“I know it’s my 19th season on the professional Tour. I’m very excited about this new beginning, just super happy to be back here in Rod Laver Arena with a victory that I needed. The last couple of months haven’t been easy for me, but hopefully this victory is going to help me.”
Nadal showered praise on Jack Draper and feels he is going to savor great success in his promising career.
“If we put [today’s match] in the perspective of all that I went through in the past six months, [it was] a very positive start,” the Spaniard added.
“I played against one of the toughest opponents possible in the first round, being seeded. He is young, he has the power and I think he has a great future in front [of him]. We are going to see him playing a lot of years here, having very good results.”
Meanwhile, Nadal was far from his best but this win will give him a lot of confidence. The Spaniard would want to carry the good show in the upcoming matches.
Nadal will face America’s Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Happy Slam on Wednesday.