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Rafa Nadal feels vulnerable in Oz Open first round against Brit Jack Draper

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RAFA NADAL admits he feels vulnerable heading into his Australian Open first-round clash with young Brit Jack Draper.

The Spaniard superstar, 36, produced a Miracle in Melbourne when he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller in the 2022 Oz Open final.

AFP

Rafa Nadal lavished praise on Australian Open opponent Jack Draper[/caption]

But he comes into this year’s event off the back two straight losses at the United Cup in Sydney – the first to Cameron Norrie, the next to Alex de Minaur.

Top seeds always feel the most nervous in the opening round of a Slam and outsider Draper, 21, will hope he can surprise the 21-time Slam champion on Monday afternoon on the Rod Laver Arena.

Draper, who is ranked 40th in the world, may not have a major scalp on his CV but his lefty serve is a tremendous weapon and he famously took the first set off Novak Djokovic in their Centre Court meeting at Wimbledon 2021.

Asked if felt vulnerable at all at the start of a major tournament, Nadal replied: “Yeah, of course. Yeah, without a doubt.

“I’ve been losing more than usual, so that’s part of the business.

AFP

Jack Draper has had an excellent rise up the rankings throughout 2022[/caption]

“Just accept the situation. I think I’m humble enough to accept that situation and just work with what I have.

“I need to build again all this momentum. I need to build again this confidence with myself with victories. But it’s true that I’ve been losing more than usual.

“Of course, we can talk about things that happened last year, all the situations that I had faced. But the real thing is I have been losing more than usual.

“I already have been here for three weeks, practicing every day with that conditions, with the best players. That helps a lot in general terms.

“I don’t know what can happen on Monday but my personal feeling, without a doubt, is better now than three weeks ago, in general terms.

“Jack is probably one of the toughest first-round opponents. Young, powerful, growing very, very fast on the ranking, playing well.

Reuters

Draper was beaten by Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon 2021 but did take the first set off the Serbian[/caption]

“Probably, yeah, a big challenge for me at the beginning to start the tournament.

“Let’s see. I’m here to just give myself a chance. I know he’s playing well.

“He has a lot of positive things, and probably a great career in front.

“I hope to be ready to fight for that first round and let’s see what can happen.

“I still hope that I can play a good Australian Open. But you don’t know what can happen.”

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