¡Vamos Rafa! Nadal passes first test at Australian Open against 15 years younger Briton


The Spaniard Rafael Nadal (36) has passed his first test at the Australian Open well. He won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 against Jack Draper and advance to the second round. Nadal is the defending champion in Australia, but still had doubts against the 21-year-old emerging British talent, as Nadal had lost seven of his eight games since the US Open.

Hans Jacobs

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No gift for an opening match at a grand slam tournament, Nadal himself said about the 21-year-old Briton. The left-handed Briton is one of the fastest climbers on the circuit in the past six months. He is in the top forty, a year ago he was 262nd in the world. Like Nadal, he’s a left-hander, and Draper admits he was a huge fan – when he was young, he copied the Spaniard’s dress style, with the sleeveless shirts and the headband.

The big question: Would Nadal’s body, wrecked by many years of top tennis, hold up? On the contrary, it was Draper who suffered in the fourth set, not Nadal. Sad for the Brit, because Draper played at a high level at times and more than kept Nadal talking. A serious test, but Nadal eventually won in four sets: 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. He had to work for 3 hours and 41 minutes. And if he was happy, he clenched both fists and held up his arms.

“Welcome back, champion”, this is how he was greeted. Nadal bared his teeth. “Last year was one of the most emotional tournaments of my career. The past few months have not been easy for me, I am super happy with that first match. And I predict a bright future for Draper.”

The first cliff has been rounded, although it still went through ups and downs. “It’s part of the way back, but in the end that first win counts.” The question now is whether Nadal’s body can handle the succession of matches. He is already getting a helping hand off the field. He became a dad last year. “It changes life for everyone, it is one of the most beautiful things there is. I enjoy the moments. It helps a lot that I have next to me.”

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