Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain beat Jack Draper of Great Britain 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1 in a first round match of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. The match lasted for more than three hours, as the 22-time Grand Slam champion went through rather comfortably in the end.
However, Draper, who at 21 is 15 years younger than Nadal, showed flashes of brilliance, but cramping hampered his cause towards the latter part of the match. On that note, we will take a look at two keys to the match.
How Rafael Nadal Survived Battle with Jack Draper at the Australian Open
#1. Draper started off well by giving Nadal a run for his money in the first two sets:
The Brit more than held his own in the first two sets and showed that he belonged in the biggest of the stages. It came down to a few points in the first set, when Draper suffered for his poor shot selection in the 12th game, as an onrushing Nadal chased down a drop shot and dispatched for a winner to thereby break the Brit.
It turned out to be the only break of serve in the set, as the Spaniard had to wait till the very end to win it. There were a lot of crosscourt forehand exchanges between the two southpaws, but Nadal always looked in command when he hit his crosscourt backhand subsequently after having pinned Draper to the corner of the court.
However, Draper started the second set in great fashion by winning the first four games. He took the attack to the Spaniard by rushing the net frequently and coming up with a sublime volley immediately after hitting his serve on one occasion.
Nadal managed to win a couple of his service games, but could not stop Draper from winning the second set, as the latter seemed to be in fine touch by the end of the second set.
#2. Draper was a bit indisciplined in the third set, and his cramping helped Nadal in the fourth:
Draper paid for the indiscipline in his shotmaking in the third set, as the Brit hit quite a few of his shots long to make Nadal’s job easier. Moreover, he also committed a couple of double faults in the fourth game to allow Nadal to break him.
Draper then broke back immediately to level the score at 4-4, but was broken again in the 10th game of the set, as Nadal won the crucial third set to go up 2-1. However, Draper then began cramping, hindered his movement to a great extent in the fourth set. As a result, Nadal had no problem winning that set and thereby finishing off the match.
Nadal’s first serve ratio was 66% against Draper’s 58% in the match and the Spaniard won 73% of the points on his first delivery as compared to 63% achieved by his opponent. The Spaniard also hit 41 winners, with the majority coming off his forehand, against Draper’s 35.
Main Photo from Getty.