Rafael Nadal not thrilled with ‘poor quality’ Australian Open balls

Rafael Nadal plays a shot Credit: Alamy
Rafael Nadal plays a shot Credit: Alamy

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is unhappy with the quality of the balls set to be used at the Australian Open.

Nadal isn’t happy as he feels that he cannot get the kind of spin he would like when using the Dunlop balls.

A frustrated Nadal said that he would need to adjust to the balls but baulked at the suggestion that they were the same as the 2022 version used in Melbourne.

Nadal said that he felt the Dunlop AO’s would be better suited to players who like to hit the ball flat.

“They say [it] is the same, but the ball is worse quality, without a doubt,” Nadal said, “I think it’s a ball that doesn’t get the same spin as usual.

“After a couple of hits, the ball loses the pressure. It’s more difficult to hit with the right spin.

“I think it is easier to play when you play flatter on the shots. But I need to live with it. I think I have practised enough with the ball to be ready for it.”

Meanwhile, Nadal has had his opinion on the balls backed up by former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

“The balls are a bit different this year, it is true,” Wawrinka said.

“I have already tested them and it is true there is a big difference after you have used them for a few games than when they are new.

“They lose a lot of pop and it is completely different.”

Australian wildcard John Millman believes flat hitters Nick Kyrgios, Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz could be set to benefit from the changes to the balls.

“Not the easiest to control initially even in the humid conditions where I am in Brisbane,” Millman wrote on Twitter.

“NK [Nick Kyrgios], [Hubert] Hurkacz, [Taylor] Fritz all very dangerous this AO [Australian Open].”

Nadal has taken issue with the media narrative that has been weaved around him after a slow start to the 2023 season.

The Spaniard lost to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur during the United Cup and has not played a conventional tour event in 2023.

“By the way, I didn’t play that bad in the first two matches the year,” he explained.

“I lost against two great opponents, but having very positive chances to win both matches.

“I feel ready, honestly. The only thing that didn’t happen for me is victories.”

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