Australian Open draw: Rafael Nadal begins title protection with powerful check in opening spherical

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CNN
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Defending champion Rafael Nadal will face English teen Jack Draper within the opening spherical of the Australian Open in a bid to retain his 2022 crown and improve his Grand Slam tally.

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz may very well be dominated out of the event resulting from harm, however with Novak Djokovic again within the competitors, Nadal can be exhausting pressed to defend his title.

Thursday’s draw wasn’t type to the 22-time main winner: if he beats world No. 40 Draper, he might probably face defending Subsequent Gen ATP Finals champion Brandon Nakashima.

What doubtless awaits the Spaniard afterwards can be a quarterfinal towards Daniil Medvedev, Nadal’s opponent in final yr’s epic five-set closing. Medvedev will attempt to attain his third consecutive closing after dropping to Djokovic in 2021 and Nadal in 2022.

A rematch of the 2021 closing is on the playing cards, with Djokovic within the reverse half of Nadal and Medvedev. The nine-time Australian Open champion will face Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena within the second spherical and is on observe to face residence favourite Nick Kyrgios within the final eight.

The event comes 12 months after Djokovic was deported from Australia on the eve of the 2022 version after former immigration minister Alex Hawke discovered the tennis star posed a danger to public well being and order as a celeb participant. In type, those that expressed protest towards the primary folks. Pressured to just accept the COVID-19 vaccine, he might be seen as an “icon” for anti-vaxxers.

The minister’s choice to deport the previous world No 1 meant he was initially banned from re-entering for 3 years.

19th seed Kyrgios is a part of an thrilling class of attracts that features Holger Roon, Dan Evans and Andrey Rublev.

Russian Rublev got here into the Australian Open because the fifth seed however suffered a shock defeat to world No. 110 Thanasi Kokkinakis in Adelaide 2 on Wednesday. Thiem.

Andy Murray will face 13th seed Matteo Berrettini within the second spherical. The Italian beat the three-time Grand Slam winner in 4 units on the 2022 US Open and has crushed the Scotsman in three of their 4 ATP conferences.

After defending champion Ashleigh Barty retired from tennis final yr, Inga Swiatek has dominated the game and enters the event as the highest seed. Pole opens towards German Jule Niemeyer however faces a scrumptious potential quarterfinal conflict with American scorching prospect Coco Gauff within the quarterfinals.

The 18-year-old celebrity comes into the event in advantageous type, having received the ASB Traditional with out dropping a set and can be trying to construct on her spectacular 2022 that noticed her attain the Roland Garros closing the place she was crushed by Swiatek.

Forward of any quarter-final conflict with favourites, Gauff faces a second-round match towards 2021 US Open champion Emma Radukanu, who’s in a race towards time to get well from an ankle harm.

Within the second half of the draw, second seed Ons Jabour started his 2023 in an try to at least one higher than final yr and win a Grand Slam. The Tunisian made it to each the Wimbledon and US Open finals, however fell on the closing hurdle in her objective of turning into the primary Arab and North African lady to win a Grand Slam.

After lacking the 2022 Open, Jabeur opens her 2023 account towards Tamara Zidanšek and will face Aryna Sabalenka, who’s coming off the again of a win at Adelaide 1 for her 11th profession title and first in 19 months .

Elsewhere, American Jessica Pegula has been seeded in the identical a part of the draw as Maria Sakkari. Pegula just lately led Group USA to victory within the inaugural United States Cup with a surprising straight-set victory over Swiatek. After reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Melbourne and being on the prime of her sport, she is going to look to arrange an exhilarating semi-final together with her United Cup rival.

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