Young Brit tennis star Jack Draper draws defending champion Rafa Nadal at Australian Open


JACK DRAPER will face defending champion Rafa Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open in one of the biggest matches of his life.

And it was a tough overall draw for the British contingent in Melbourne with Andy Murray having to open his campaign next week against No.13 seed Matteo Berrettini.

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Jack Draper has to play Rafa Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open next weekCredit: Getty
Rafa Nadal won Slam No.21 when he came from behind to win the 2022 Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev

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Rafa Nadal won Slam No.21 when he came from behind to win the 2022 Australian Open final against Daniil MedvedevCredit: Getty

At just 21 years old, Draper is one of the most exciting young players in the sport and the competitor inside of him will be relishing the prospect of trying to slay the Spanish icon.

The pair will meet on either Monday or Tuesday evening and it will be on the Rod Laver Arena – a huge moment for the young Londoner in the global spotlight.

It will bring back memories of Draper’s clash with Novak Djokovic on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in June 2021 when he won the first set and everyone’s pulses racing before losing in four.

Nadal, of course, will start as the favourite and is searching for Slam No.23, almost twelve months after he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling men’s final at Melbourne Park.

Should Draper somehow win the contest – this is his debut in the Oz Open main draw – it would go down as one of the greatest upsets in recent years.

The world No.40 will head to Victoria State in good form having beaten Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 on Thursday in the quarter-finals of Adelaide International 2.

Andy Murray was in an angry state when he was beaten by Matteo Berrettini at the US Open last September

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Andy Murray was in an angry state when he was beaten by Matteo Berrettini at the US Open last SeptemberCredit: Getty
Murray teamed up with Berrettini for some doubles action at the Laver Cup last year in London

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Murray teamed up with Berrettini for some doubles action at the Laver Cup last year in LondonCredit: Getty

If he beats South Korean Kwon Soon-woo in the semi-finals, then he will have a shot to win this weekend his first ATP Tour title.

There are five British men in the draw here and that is the first time it has happened Down Under since 1988.

Murray, a five-time finalist at the Australian Open, has played Berrettini on four occasions and only won once.

That was their first encounter in Beijing in 2019 and since then the Italian Stallion has prevailed at Queen’s in 2021, in the 2022 Stuttgart Open final and over four sets at the US Open last September.

For the 35-year-old Murray, who has yet to experience a deep run at a Slam since career-saving hip surgery four years ago, this is one of the worst draws he could have imagined.

Kyle Edmund, who is in the draw thanks to his protected ranking, has to find a way past Italian No.15 seed Jannik Sinner.

Emma Raducanu has enjoyed some beach life since arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open

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Emma Raducanu has enjoyed some beach life since arriving in Melbourne for the Australian OpenCredit: PA

No.11 seed Cameron Norrie, the highest-ranked Brit in world tennis, is up against French wildcard Luca van Assche.

Dan Evans will play Argentine Facundo Bagnis in their second ever meeting on Tour – the first was at the 2017 Australian Open where the Brummie prevailed in straight sets.

Elsewhere Nick Kyrgios contests Russian Roman Safiullin while Novak Djokovic takes on Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the bottom half of the draw.

In the women’s competition, Emma Raducanu will battle German Tamara Korpatsch for a place in the second round – where exciting American teenager Coco Gauff may lie in wait.

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Harriet Dart, the British No.2, is up against Switzerland’s No.32 seed Jil Teichmann.

Poland’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek, who is the reigning French and US Open champion, will begin her assault in Australia against German Jule Niemeier.





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