Watch: Rafael Nadal’s vintage 25-shot rally in Australian Open 2023 first round thriller
Rafael Nadal had a vintage 25-shot rally in his Australian Open 2023 first round match, at the Rod Laver Arena.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal didn't have the greatest of starts in the ongoing Australia Open 2023, registering an emphatic 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win against Jack Draper. The 21-year-old Brit put in a good fight but at the end fitness played a role and his body cramps barely got him to the finish line.
The Spaniard clinched the opening set, but was then broken twice to begin the second set. In the second set, his forehand wasn't strong and he looked weak physically. But then when his experience was needed, the veteran rose up to the occasion and took advantage of his opponent's physical issues to win the third set for a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 lead.
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In the fourth set, both players began to put in a fight towards victory, and a stunning 25-shot rally over three hours into the match proved the stunning atmosphere. Here is the video of the rally:
The world no. 2 was on the receiving end of three break points in the opening game of the final set, and couldn't save the last, giving Draper a 1-0 lead. In the next game, Nadal earned himself a break point but destroyed his return. Then, Draper gave Nadal some motivation, trying a drop shot on the next point and failing it, giving Nadal another break chance which he took for 1-1.
Soon, Draper began to show fitness issues with cramps, and barely was able to move laterally. Taking advantage of the situation, Nadal cruised to a 1-5 lead and then served out the match shortly.
He will face American Mackenzie McDonald in his next match, and praised Draper. "If we put it in the perspective of what I've been through in the last six months, it was a positive start. I played against one of the toughest opponents possible in the first round. He's young, he has the power and I think he has a great future in front (of him)", he said.