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Rafael Nadal advances to Australian Open 2nd Round

Rafael Nadal advances to Australian Open 2nd Round

Rafael Nadal advances to Australian Open 2nd Round

Rafael Nadal advances to Australian Open 2nd Round

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  • Rafael Nadal begins Australian Open title defence with four-set victory.
  • Local favourite Nick Kyrgios retires before playing a ball at Melbourne Park.
  • The top seed in the women’s draw, pulls through gruelling test.
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Rafael Nadal began his Australian Open title defence with a four-set victory over Britain’s Jack Draper on Monday, while local favourite Nick Kyrgios retired due to injury before playing a ball.

Iga Swiatek, the top seed in the women’s draw, pulled through a grueling test, while Jessica Pegula and teenage prodigy Coco Gauff both triumphed handily on the opening day of play.

Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal, 36, had been playing poorly by his extraordinarily high standards, having dropped six of his previous seven matches dating back to a loss in the round of 16 at the US Open.

At a hot Melbourne Park, the 22-time Grand Slam champion had a tough challenge in the form of the quickly rising Draper, 21.

At Rod Laver Arena, the top seed defeated the 38th-ranked British player 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 after overcoming a wobble in the second set and an odd incident in which a ball boy accidentally seized his racket.

In round two, Nadal will face American Mackenzie McDonald, who recently became a father.

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“Very joyful, new beginning,” he stated after defeating Draper.

“The last few months have not been easy for me.”

When Australian Kyrgios held a hastily scheduled press conference to announce his withdrawal from the event due to a knee injury, Nadal was on the court. Kyrgios is gifted but difficult to manage.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” said the Wimbledon finalist, who was considered an outside chance to win her first Grand Slam title.

“I’ve had some amazing events here, winning the doubles last year and maybe playing the best tennis of my life going into this event.

“I’m just fatigued from it all, and it’s obviously really nasty.”

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Several stars had already dropped out of the year’s first Grand Slam.

Other players missing include injured men’s world number one Carlos Alcaraz and two-time Melbourne champion Naomi Osaka, who is expecting her first child.

Novak Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open winner who was imprisoned and deported before last year’s tournament after refusing to be vaccinated for Covid, opens his championship defence on Tuesday.

Other winners on Monday included third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and sixth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, who defeated tenacious Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian match.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia, a lost finalist in 2021 and 2022, fired up his bid to go one better with a straight-sets thrashing of Marcos Giron.

However, 21st seed Borna Coric was defeated in straight sets by Czech star Jiri Lehecka.

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Novak Djokovic will be favourite for any Grand Slam outside of Paris....

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