By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal survived his first test in his title defense after defeating Jack Draper in four sets- 7.5, 2.6, 6.4, 6.1- during the ongoing Australian Open men’s tennis tournament last January 16, 2023.
The current world no. 2 male tennis player survived a shaky start in the first two sets and had to dig deep to regain his touch in the final 40 minutes of the game.
Draper managed to keep things close after forcing Nadal to several errors in the first set while completing his comeback after crushing the Spaniard in the second set.
Despite the confidence Draper gained when the match got deadlocked, Nadal flipped the switch at the start of the third set and unleashed his signature baseline power game.
Draper couldn’t do anything when Nadal piled up his points through his down-the-line forehand winners and could only watch the living legend control the baseline.
After going for a 2-1 lead, Nadal smelled blood early in the fourth and last set and went consistent with his offensive ground strokes that prevented Draper’s attempt to control the net area.
Draper pulled the last trick up his sleeve by throwing several baseline lobs in an attempt to delay Nadal’s forehand rhythm but none of that helped as the world no. 2 showed no mercy and held all of his service possessions in the fourth set.
Nadal wrapped up his first-round result with an emphatic 124 points won built from a 72% win rate on his first service possessions.
Also, Nadal notched six break points in the service area which allowed him to clinch more cushion during the last two sets.
With the win, Nadal just punched a ticket to the Grand Slam tournament’s second round and will be facing Mackenzie McDonald.