Rafael Nadal struggles from the first round… Who is 21-year-old ‘morning star’ Jack Draper?

Rafael Nadal (37, Spain, No. 2 in the world rankings), who is challenging his second straight victory in the Australian Open men’s singles at the season’s first major tournament, met a tough opponent from the first gate.

According to the matchup (round of 128) released on the 12th, Nadal will face Jack Draper (21st, 40th), a rising star from England, in the first round. This is the first confrontation between the two.

Draper is 193 cm tall and left-handed like Nadal. He is regarded as the player who made the biggest ‘leap’ on the ATP (Men’s Professional Tennis) Tour last year. His career record is 22 wins and 18 losses, and he has yet to win a championship.

Even at the start of the 2022 season, he was ranked 265th and was a player focusing on the ATP Challenger Tour. However, after a year of remarkable growth, he finished the season in 42nd place. He climbed 223 steps.

After defeating Taylor Fritz (USA) at the ATP Tour Queen’s Club Championship in June, he defeated Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) at the ATP Tour Los Sea International in the same month to reach the semifinals on the ATP Tour for the first time in his career. It proved its competitiveness against the top 20 strong players.

Growth did not stop. At the National Bank Open (ATP 1000) held in Montreal, Canada in August last year, he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) and Felix Oze Aliasim (Canada) at the US Open, the last major tournament of the season. The two matches are regarded as one of the best ‘Rebellions of the Underdog’ on the 2022 ATP Tour and Grand Slam, respectively.

Based on this performance, Draper became the first British player to advance to the Next Generation ATP Finals last year.

His start this season is also good. He reached the semifinals at the first round of the Adelaide International, the season opener. It was he who defeated Kwon Soon-woo in the first round of the tournament.

According to the British BBC on the 13th, Draper showed an excited reaction to the meeting with the defending champion in the first round, saying, “It is amazing to play with him on the court.”

“He is a great champion. Whatever happens, it will be a special opportunity for me.”

He showed the spirit of a young challenger.메이저놀이터

“My career is still very short, so it’s great to experience a game against an opponent like Rafa on such a big court and be exposed (via TV, etc.),” ​​he said. “I really want to play well. I want to compete hard with the best I can.”

Nadal, who is currently number 2 in the rankings, received the top seed as the number 1 player, Carlos Alcaras (Spain), was absent due to a leg injury.
Nadal, who holds the record for the most in this category with 22 major victories in his career, is trying to widen the gap with Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia) to two by winning his 23rd championship in this tournament.

However, after being eliminated in the 4th round of the US Open last year, it has been sluggish with 1 win and 6 losses in the last 7 matches. It seems that the aftermath of the abdominal injury sustained at Wimbledon last year continues. There is also a risk of a chronic left foot injury (Muller-Weiss disease), which is not strange when it explodes.

But Nadal doesn’t seem to care. In a media interview ahead of the tournament, Nadal said, “It is true that I have not been able to show my usual performance in some recent competitions,” but “I am in good shape right now. I am confident,” he said.

Meanwhile, Djokovic, who is competing with Nadal for the best player ever in men’s tennis, was placed in the opposite block to Nadal in the bracket. In other words, it means that the two will face each other in the finals. Djokovic is the absolute leader of the Australian Open, having won nine times in this event alone. If he wins, he balances Nadal with 22 Grand Slam titles.

The Australian Open, which leads to the four major tournaments along with the French Open, Wimbledon Championships and US Open, will be held in Melbourne, Australia from the 16th to the 29th.

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