Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Nadal launches title defence as Australian Open ushers in new period

Rafa Nadal will kick off his Australian Open title defence on Monday with a primary spherical check towards rising Briton Jack Draper as a brand new period begins on the blue hardcourts of Melbourne Park.

On the first Grand Slam following Roger Federer’s retirement and Serena Williams’s “evolving away” from tennis, Spaniard Nadal carries the flame for the fading golden technology as he bids for a twenty third main title and third at Melbourne Park.

The 36-year-old is third up at Rod Laver Enviornment, returning to the centre court docket the place a yr in the past he conjured the “miracle of Melbourne”, getting back from two units all the way down to topple Daniil Medvedev in a five-set basic.

Nevertheless, as Nadal noticed on Saturday, tennis strikes rapidly.

The highest seed has had just one win since September’s U.S. Open and admitted his title defence was weak to an early shock after two straight defeats within the lead-up.

A younger man in a rush, 21-year-old Draper surged into the highest 40 after a run to the Adelaide II semi-finals final week and has beforehand recorded wins over a slew of prime gamers, together with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“It’s probably one of the toughest first rounds possible, being seeded,” Nadal mentioned of the match-up.

“I’m here to just give myself a chance.”

With native hero Ash Barty having retired final March after ending Australia’s 44-year watch for a house winner, the ladies’s event will characteristic a brand new champion.

Prime seed Iga Swiatek is powerful favorite to succeed Barty and win her first title at Melbourne Park, having gained two of the 4 Grand Slams in 2022.

The reigning French and U.S. Open champion opens her marketing campaign towards Jule Niemeier within the first night match at Rod Laver Enviornment, the German who gave Swiatek an enormous scare within the U.S. Open fourth spherical.

With American tennis in search of a brand new champion within the post-Serena period, Coco Gauff will open the day session at Rod Laver Enviornment towards Czech Katerina Siniakova.

Huge issues have been anticipated of Gauff since her beautiful run to the fourth spherical at Wimbledon in 2019 in her Grand Slam debut on the tender age of 15.

Now 18 and along with her first main closing below her belt after final yr’s French Open, Gauff could also be among the many strongest candidates to fill the vacuum left by Williams.

The ladies’s event has been described as one of the open in years, with solely two former champions within the draw.

Just one will stay after Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka play off within the third match at Margaret Courtroom Enviornment.

Medvedev, the lads’s seventh seed, will return to the scene of final yr’s closing heartbreak when he faces unseeded American Marcos Giron within the late match at Rod Laver Enviornment.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, a three-times semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, will meet France’s Quentin Halys at Margaret Courtroom Enviornment, whereas girls’s runner-up Danielle Collins begins towards Russian Anna Kalinskaya on the Kia Enviornment. 

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