The 22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will kick off the 2023 season at the inaugural United Cup! Nadal and Paula Badosa should lead Spain at the new team event that gathers 18 countries in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. The United Cup starts on December 29 and will offer six groups with three teams.
The group winners and the best runner-up team will head to Sydney for the event's final stage between January 6-8. Every country will add three or four players from both ATP and WTA Tour, with 500 ATP and WTA points up for grabs for the most successful competitors.
Nadal claimed the title for Spain at the 2019 Davis Cup and competed for his country again a few weeks later at the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia. Spain faced Japan, Uruguay and Georgia in the group stage and passed all three obstacles to advance into the quarter-final.
Nadal scored four wins from six singles encounters and earned 250 points.
Rafael Nadal will lead Spain at the inaugural United Cup in Australia.
In the opening match, Rafa defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 7-5, struggling a bit in the second set before sealing the deal without playing a decider.
Nadal played better against Pablo Cuevas and toppled the Uruguayan 6-2, 6-1 after a fine display on serve and return. World no. 1 prevailed over Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6, 6-4 to wrap up the group stage with three wins and send his country into the last eight.
Rafa's first ATP Cup loss came against David Goffin, who played on a high level and beat him 6-4, 7-6. Despite that, Spain advanced into the semi-final and faced Australia. Nadal battled past the young gun Alex de Minaur in front of his partisan Aussie crowd to help Spain reach the title clash against Serbia.
Facing each other for the 55th time, Nadal lost to Djokovic 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 55 minutes and failed to seal the deal for Spain ahead of the deciding doubles rubber. Firing 12 aces, Novak lost only 14 points in ten service games, repelling five break chances and stealing Rafa's serve twice in the opener for a strong start.
Nadal served better in the second set and followed Djokovic's pace after erasing two late break chances, only to fall in the tie break and suffer another loss to the Serb on hard courts. Rafa had a great run in Australia this year, kicking off the season at a small ATP 250 event before conquering his first Australian Open in 13 years.