Melbourne, Australia, Jan 16 (EFE).- Defending champion Rafael Nadal took three hours and 40 minutes to beat a resilient Jack Draper and reach the second round of the Australian Open, while No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a late challenge from Quentin Halys to win in straight sets.
“Last year was one of the most exciting tournaments of my career, but that is the past. I needed this victory because in the last month I had not accumulated any. I have played against one of the most dangerous rivals for a first round,” No. 1 seed Nadal said during his post-match courtside interview on the Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal looked unusually rusty but weathered the delicate moments, such as the end of the third set, to march on for a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
It was the seventeenth time the Spaniard qualified for a second round at the Australian Open, as well as the first victory in 2023.
He will face the American Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated compatriot Brandon Nakashima in a clash that lasted more than four hours and ended 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 1 -6, 6-7(10), 6-4.
Tsitsipas cruised to an early two-set lead with a display of attacking tennis against France’s Halys, looking comfortable on serve and hitting 17 aces on his way to victory. The Greek gave away an early break at the beginning of the third set, allowing Halys back into the match and offering him multiple set points, before winning a tiebreak to seal the match.
Last year’s semi-finalist prevailed 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 in less than two hours and awaits the winner of the other bracket.
He will face either qualifier Yannick Hanfmann or wild card Rinky Hijikata in the second round on Wednesday. EFE