Melbourne : Spain’s World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, the most successful men’s singles player in tennis with 22 Grand Slam titles, was on Thursday handed a tough draw at the year’s first Grand Slam with an opening round encounter with Britain’s in-from Scott Draper at Melbourne Park.
The 2021-winner Novak Djokovic, who is close on Nadal’s heels with 21 Grand Slam titles, and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios are in the same quarter of the draw in the bottom half and are scheduled to meet in the quarterfinals.
Defending champion Nadal will need to be sharp from his first match against Draper, a 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor. The 21-year-old, who owns two Top 10 wins, has made a quick start to his season.
The World No. 40 will compete in the Adelaide International 2 semi-finals on Friday. Nadal, on the other hand, has struggled in the United Cup, losing to Cameron Norrie, Draper’s compatriot, as Spain failed to advance in the United Cup.
If Nadal navigates past the British star, his path will not get much easier, with one of two Americans – Mackenzie McDonald or Brandon Nakashima – waiting in the second round.
Also in the Spaniard’s quarter is seventh seed Daniil Medvedev, which means a rematch of the 2022 Australian Open final between them could be played in the last eight.
Sixteenth seed Frances Tiafoe, who upset Nadal at last year’s U.S. Open, is a potential fourth-round opponent for the lefty. In the bottom half of the draw, nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and Australian Nick Kyrgios landed in the same quarter.
The 19th-seeded Kyrgios could play ninth seed Holger Rune in the third round and fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the fourth round before a quarter-final clash against Djokovic, who begins his pursuit of a record-tying 22nd major title against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.
Rublev’s first-round clash will be a blockbuster against his close friend, former World No. 3 and 2020 Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem. Thirteenth seed Matteo Berrettini will open against former World No. 1 Andy Murray.