Rafael Nadal looked a bit rusty during his first-round win over “tricky opponent” Jack Draper at the Australian Open, but he feels it is all part of the process.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner’s build-up to the defence of his Australian Open title has not gone smoothly as he lost both his games in the mixed team United Cup a fortnight ago.
And he was not handed the kindest of draws as fellow left-hander Draper is considered a rising star as the 21-year-old reached the semi-final of the Adelaide International last week while he claimed the scalps Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime during an excellent 2022 campaign.
After making a solid start by taking the opening set fairly comfortably, Nadal lost his way badly in the second set as the British youngster broke in games one and three to race into a 4-0 lead before going on to win the set.
Nadal, though, bounced back to win 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, but he made an uncharacteristic 45 unforced errors, although he was pleased to get the win under his belt.
“When you put everything into perspective, I had a very tricky opponent in the first round. I knew before the match that the doubts were going to be there, that there will be ups and downs in the match,” he told Eurosport.
“So the other thing that I said to myself was ‘okay, I know that’s going to happen because I need victories to avoid that’.
“I need to accept that, to stay with the right attitude, and it happened in the second [set, which Draper won] and it happened in the fourth at the beginning, but that’s part of the business now.”
Nadal became a father in October last year as his wife Mery gave birth to a boy and both of them have made the trip to Australia.
When it was put to him during the post-match on-court interview “Rafa you’re a dad,” he replied with a smile on his face: “Yeah it’s true.”
He added: “It’s one of the most beautiful things in life without a doubt so I am enjoying this new moment, having fun, super happy and grateful to have the chance to have them with me here in Australia. That helps a lot.
“Just happy that I am able to play tennis at this stage of my career. I image myself being months away from home [playing] it’s going to be a very difficult situation so very grateful [to have them here].”
There was also a bizarre moment during his clash against Draper as one of the ball kids accidentally took the wrong racket to get restrung and it caused a bit of a delay.
WATCH: Rafael Nadal ‘needs his racket back’ after ballboy mistakenly takes wrong racket
He told Eurosport’s Barbara Schett after the match: “Not distracting, just a funny situation!
“Normally, I have the numbers of the racket under control, so I said ‘I need the stringer’ – but I needed the stringer to look at the other rackets.
“So he [the ball kid] picked up my racket I was ready to play [with]. But okay, he took it and no problem at all!”
Watch every match from the Australian Open live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport
The article Rafael Nadal pleased with win over Jack Draper as he discusses fatherhood and ‘funny situation’ appeared first on Tennis365.com.