Aussie tennis great Wally Masur has warned that Rafael Nadal could potentially face a first-round exit at the Australian Open after a scratchy run into the tournament.
Nadal has been uncharacteristically out of form so far this summer, losing to both Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur at the United Cup while representing Spain.
The reigning champion heads into the first grand slam of the year as the No.1 seed in the men’s draw, and will face Great Britain’s Jack Draper first up, a danger man according to Masur.
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“He’ll need to be on song pretty early because Jake Draper is in form and he’s an awkward opponent in the first round,” Masur said on Nine’s coverage of the draw.
Masur added that Nadal has tweaked his game since suffering the abdominal injury that cruelled the back half of his 2022 season following wins at Melbourne Park and Roland-Garros.
“It was that stomach tear at Wimbledon … and he never really recovered, he won one match at the US Open for the back end of the year, so it wasn’t the Rafa that we’re used to,” he said.
“He’s struggled at the start of 2023. We caught a little glimpse of him at the United Cup and it’s pretty obvious what he’s been working on in the off-season.
“He’s trying to be a bit more offensive, shortening the points, serve-and-volleying at the net, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out for him.”
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