Jack Draper sets up Italian Open clash with defending champion Daniil Medvedev

Jack Draper set up a second-round clash with defending champion Daniil Medvedev at the Italian Open while Rafael Nadal battled to victory in his Rome opener.

The 11-time champion was in action at the Foro Italico for the first time since 2022 and struggled to find his game against qualifier Zizou Bergs, but fought back from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

The contest was delayed by a medical emergency in the stands early in the second set, while Nadal won a point in the third set despite slipping over mid-rally.

It was a gritty affair until the end and the veteran Spaniard vowed to hold nothing back in his next match against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

“That was not my best match,” said Nadal. “I was practising better than I played but I found a way to win and that is important at the beginning of the tournament.

“I didn’t play much tennis for the last two years, some ups and downs, but I think I can do it much better than what I did today.

“I need to try to play at my 100 per cent. It’s not easy because I need to lose a little bit of fear that I have in some shots. If something happens, something happens.

“I have Roland Garros in just two weeks and a half. It has arrived a moment that I need to prove myself if I am able to push my body to the limit that I need to push to feel myself ready for what’s coming.”

British number two Draper was much happier with his performance in a 7-5 6-1 victory over Croatian Borna Coric.

Coric hung in well under immense pressure in the opening set before Draper finally took his seventh break point, but the 22-year-old was more ruthless in a one-sided second.

Sat in Draper’s box courtside was former top-10 player Wayne Ferreira, who is on a trial period assisting coach James Trotman.

“Wayne at the moment is just a trial,” Draper told Sky Sports. “I think it’s really important to say that James Trotman is my main coach right now.

“Wayne coming in has given us a few little tips. He’s obviously been on tour for a long time. He was an excellent player himself.

“Now I think it’s about developing my game to hopefully be that top-10 player and winning big titles. That’s where I want to be.”

Draper has lost a lot of close matches against higher-ranked players this season and now has another chance to test himself when he takes on second seed Medvedev.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka claimed her best win on clay (Andrew Medichini/AP)

“I’m going to have to play great tennis,” said Draper. “His level’s incredibly high, he’s one of the best players on tour for a reason, a grand slam champion and someone that all the players respect.

“I played a good first round today so hopefully I can take that into that match.”

Dan Evans was unable to join Draper in the second round, suffering a fifth successive defeat in a fiery encounter with Italian enigma Fabio Fognini.

Evans was warned for swearing during the third set after reacting furiously to an overrule by umpire Mohamed Lahyani that was shown by HawkEye to be incorrect and succumbed to a 6-4 3-6 6-2 loss.

Naomi Osaka likened herself to a “baby giraffe” after claiming her first victory over a top-20 player on clay, beating in-form Marta Kostyuk 6-3 6-2, while Coco Gauff defeated Magdalena Frech 6-3 6-3 and top seed Iga Swiatek thumped Bernarda Pera 6-0 6-2.