PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal beats Jack Draper in four sets at the Australian Open

Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal began his title defence with a four-set victory over Britain’s Jack Draper on the opening day in Melbourne.

Rafa was given a scare by Draper in a physical battle, but the 21-year-old was hampered by cramps as our champ went on to claim a 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1 win in over three and a half hours.

I’m super happy to be back in Australia one more time. It’s, like, my 19th season in the professional tour, so I’m very excited about this new beginning. Just super happy to be back here in Rod Laver Arena, and with a victory that I needed. The last couple of months haven’t been easy for me—hopefully this victory’s going to help me.

Rafa Nadal

He will face next Mackenzie McDonald, who was an earlier winner over his American compatriot Brandon Nakashima.


  1. Congratulation for conquering R1. Looking forward for a victorious R2. Think of your AO23 matches like Christmas. Always have a festive, joyous, excitement and super-energy mood during your games thinking that JESUS will give you a gift of Championship in AO23 and GS23. Keep your faith and hope high. Let JESUS hold your hands when playing to win shot, talk to him in the Spirit to help you do the breakpoints quickly and speedily and imagine He’s there with you to win the game. During your break time, let Jesus rejuvenate, energize and empower your body supernaturally in the HOLY SPIRIT to be refreshed like a youth, an eagle and a Lion. Praying for your VICTORY all the way to CHAMPIONSHIP in Jesus name, Amen…Shalom ***/ GS23/ No.1

  2. Rafa prevailed because Draper cramped up and Rafa stayed the course . I think that Rafa mudt step up his serve and volley game and definetly cut diwn on the unforced errors . I am hopeful that Rafa will improve in order to move toward the quarters . At that point. Rafa should be competitive with any and every oppponent . Vamos and i am a true believer 😌.

  3. Rafa’s comment about the tennis balls and his style of play made sense. If the balls are this dead (even draper said the same thing), it makes complete sense why he stayed on the baseline and attacked so much. Sure he made his fair share of unforced errors but playing with spin would have been suicidal and made him defend a hell of a lot more. His conditioning is not at his peak but he managed his game quite well TBH and struck at the right moments. This was a tough but much required first round match for him. All the practice in the world can’t substitute a match like this. It’s true his dips in level in set 2 is a bit worrying (like against deminaur or Morrie) but he played quite well in those matches and he knows his level is up and down but i hope he manages his game and peaks in time. All the best rafa

  4. Way to go, Rafa! My family and I stayed up until 2am in the morning to watch your victory against Draper! We high fived and cheered all your winners. On to your next match and victory, repeat..looking forward to all of it!

  5. Congrats, Rafa! You were right – We knew you would win and continue to improve!

    All the best against McDonald next. We know you can do it and will get it done with the victory, hopefully in straight sets. 😃🎾🏆🍀🏅💪🍷🍾

  6. Did anyone see the full match? I did… Imo rafa is far far away of his best form…and for win this slam he must be in his best form. His draw is very hard… To be onest rafa won”t be in the final 8…. He made very much u.e. If draper wasn”t sick i am very convinced he has not win the match…. Like i was saying in my last opinion i have no expactation on this slam…. My only wish in djoker will not win this slam…. Hope rafa rise his game and makes me wrong… Vamos Rafa win or lose….

  7. A win is a win, Rafa earned it, congrats.👏 Physical fitness is part of the game. Vamos Rafa! One match at a time, hope you play better and better.🍀💪❤️

  8. Congrats, Rafa! It wasn’t your best performance, but I know you will continue to build and improve from here. Draper is powerful and has lots of weapons and will be a future tennis champion. It’s a greta learning experience for Draper playing you (Draper’s idol growing up). I know you can win the second round against Mackie McDonald. Of course, take it one match at a time. Vamos!

  9. Congratulations, Rafa! Fierce opponent in the first round! A welcome boost to Rafa’s confidence. Best wishes into the 2nd round.

  10. Yes, it was not pretty at all times, but this was an important win for Rafa. He needed it for his self confidence. Draper was a very tough opponent for the first round. I am sure Rafa will play better in the second round, but he still faces a daunting draw.

  11. Great to see you got the win Rafa, this will give you the confidence that you need. Onwards and upwards now to the next round Rafa, so happy for you, Vamos champ 💕

  12. I don’t approve of the comments of the British commentator here in Oz. It was not a balanced commentary from him so I lowered the volume to nil.

    Sports commentators require an ability to be impartial whether the player is a compatriot or not. There was a perverse sense of attaching non-existing meaning to every miss by Rafa. Case in point, Draper was 40-up at one point and Rafa tried a running forehand but stopped short of making contact with the ball. He was criticized by both commentators citing “are we in the twilight zone?” Fellas, Rafa was using his smarts. Why expend energy with next to zero success?

    I am pleased for the simple reason that Rafa looked healthy. Match that with his tennis IQ and I say he is definitely on track to achieve the ultimate goal.

  13. This was one of those “it wasn’t pretty but it’s a win” matches. We will take it! Unforced errors are never helpful. Rafa is missing shots he would normally make easily by a matter of millimetres. Fix that up and all will be well! Hopefully, Rafa’s confidence comes up from the win and that, of course will make everything improve. On to McDonald! Vamos, Rafa!

  14. Welcome back, Champ! How good did that victory feel! Congrats, Rafa. Great to see the family there. Let’s keep the momentum going-all the best👏👍💪🤛🍀🎾❤️

  15. You take a set off Rafa, and he’ll come back for the kill.
    Remember last year against Medvedev in the finals.
    Rafa’s the man, the legend, the GOAT of tennis.
    VAMOS Rafa. No 1 in our hearts. 😁⭐️❤️

  16. Terrible match for Rafa. Only won because Draper had cramp. The Champ has to shape up if he is to win.

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