MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal has started the defense of his Australian Open title with a bit of a struggle along the way to a four-set victory over a cramping Jack Draper.
Nadal was not in peak form but did manage to beat Draper 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a match that took more than 3 1/2 hours in Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
It was the first match win for Nadal in 2023.
He had lost six of his preceding seven contests dating to the end of last season.
Americans Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff and Danielle Collins, the 2022 runner-up at Melbourne Park, all reached the second round in the women’s bracket with victories earlier Monday.
The biggest surprise of the day was the withdrawal of Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios, who needs surgery on his left knee.
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