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HIstory says Nadal might be robust in Melbourne

All through his lengthy and storied profession, Rafael Nadal has all the time been sincere when discussing the state of his sport with the media.

So when he says he’s “weak” to an early exit from this yr’s Australian Open, we should always take him at his phrase, proper?

Definitely, his first-round match-up with Britain’s Jack Draper, the world No 40, is about as powerful a contest as a seeded participant might have. The left-hander has energy, youth, exuberance and perception whereas Nadal is 36 and has misplaced six of his seven matches since final yr’s US Open.

Defending champion, prime seed, report Grand Slam winner

However that is Nadal we’re speaking about. Let’s take into consideration this for a second.

The Spaniard is the defending champion in Melbourne, having come from two units and a break right down to beat Daniil Medvedev within the closing final yr, probably the most outstanding wins in Australian Open historical past.

With Carlos Alcaraz out by way of harm, Nadal can be the No 1 seed after one other unbelievable yr, regardless of an injury-hit second half of the season.

What’s extra, Nadal’s report on the Australian Open is nothing short of sensational. Except 2016, when he misplaced within the first spherical to Fernando Verdasco, he has reached the quarter-finals or higher yearly he has performed the occasion since 2005.

Along with his two wins, in 2009 and final yr, Nadal has reached the ultimate 4 instances, ending runner-up in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, dropping to Djokovic 3 times and Roger Federer as soon as (2017).

He is additionally 124-18 in matches with left-handers, though Draper might take some solace in the truth that the Spaniard misplaced two of the previous three, with Cam Norrie and Denis Shapovalov getting the higher of him.

Nadal not afraid to be sincere

Most gamers are cautious of speaking about something to do with their sport that is not going effectively. Few would recommend they have been weak to an early exit for concern of providing their opponent a psychological increase.

However Nadal isn’t fearful about that. As an alternative, he could be doing the other, piling the stress on Draper. The Briton is an effective participant who has an opportunity to win however the stress, surprisingly, appears to be on him to ship, with Nadal having created a state of affairs wherein he’s nearly thought-about to be the underdog.

He is not, after all, and he expects himself to play effectively.

“I did not play that dangerous the primary two matches the yr,” he mentioned. “I misplaced towards two nice opponents (Cam Norrie and Alex de Minaur), however having very optimistic possibilities to win each matches. I have already got been right here for 3 weeks, training day by day with that circumstances, with the most effective gamers. That helps rather a lot basically phrases.

“My state of affairs, I do not know what can occur on Monday, however my private feeling, no doubt, is best now than three weeks in the past, basically phrases.”

Rafael Nadal, Australian Open 2023 – © Zuma / Panoramic

Balls a reliable concern

However, if there may be one space the place he may be involved, then that is the state of the balls.

Quite a lot of gamers have highlighted how shortly the balls getting used for this yr’s occasion are dropping their fluff after only one or two video games, making them quicker. Organizers say the balls are the identical as final yr, however Nadal disagrees, declaring that they may favor those that hit with much less spin.

“They are saying (they’re) the identical, however the ball is worse high quality, no doubt,” he mentioned. “We will not discuss that any extra. It is what we’ve got. We have to play with it.

“I feel it is a ball that does not get the identical spin as common. After a few hits, the ball loses the stress. It is harder to hit with the appropriate spin. I feel it is simpler to play if you play flatter on the pictures. However I have to stay with it. I feel I practiced sufficient with the ball to be prepared for it.”

Nadal: “I really feel prepared, truthfully”

Nadal produced heroics right here 12 months in the past when he got here from two units and a break right down to beat Daniil Medvedev and declare a second Australian Open title. There is no purpose to not count on him to come back out firing towards Draper.

The truth that Nadal arrived right here early tells you every part that you must learn about his motivation. His household – together with his new-born son – is with him and he appears proud of life, able to go.

“I really feel prepared, truthfully,” he mentioned. “The one factor that did not occur in my aspect is victories. That is the actual factor. However for the remainder of the issues that I’m constructing to be prepared for a event like this one, I really feel fairly prepared.

“I’d like to arrive right here with a few victories, sure. That did not occur, so want to just accept that, have to stay with it. The remainder of the elements of my sport that I’ve been working with, I’m fairly blissful and I really feel prepared when it comes to attempting to play an excellent tennis on Monday. Then I have to make that occur and I going to combat for it.”

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