Rafael Nadal has started 2023 with a 6-3 1-6 5-7 loss to Alex de Manaur at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.
In two hours and 42 minutes, de Minaur weathered periods of powerful shots from Rafa, while applying enough pressure to force Rafa to fumble.
Australia now takes a 1-0 lead over Spain in Group D at the United Cup.
“I was very close to win against two great players. I am not too alarmed,” Rafa told reporters. “I need to be a little bit faster on the court. Last year I had lost two matches in Abu Dhabi too.”