Rafael Nadal matches Ivan Lendl. Roger Federer is next
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 3161
The Open era started in 1968, and only five players have scored 1000 ATP wins. Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer lead the field with over 1200, followed by Ivan Lendl, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Ivan Lendl stands on 1068, and Nadal was almost locked to pass him during the last summer.
Rafa scored his 1063rd ATP win in the Wimbledon quarter-final following an epic triumph over Taylor Fritz. However, the Spaniard withdrew ahead of the semi-final due to an abdominal injury and struggled for the rest of the season.
Nadal claimed four more wins in the rest of 2022 and stood on 1067 ahead of the new season. Rafa failed to match Ivan at the United Cup after losing both matches. Finally, a 21-time Major winner secured his 1068th ATP victory in the Australian Open first round.
Nadal faced the young Briton Jack Draper in the first round and beat him 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in three hours in 41 minutes. Draper stayed in touch with Nadal for two hours and 45 minutes, giving his best but losing steam after an early break in the fourth set.
Rafa lost serve four times and delivered six breaks that carried him through. The Spaniard did not look good on the court in the second set before bouncing back in the third and fourth to move into the second round. Both players made a strong start, and Jack defended a break point in game eight with a service winner for 4-4.
Rafael Nadal earned his 1068th ATP win at the Australian Open.
Nadal forced the youngster's mistake in the 12th game and created a set point, eager to avoid a tie break. He seized it with a forehand crosscourt winner for 7-5 in 54 minutes and a boost.
However, the young gun made a fresh start in the second set, serving well and breaking Nadal in games one and three to open a 4-0 gap. Nadal struggled and faced more break points in game five. He saved them to avoid a potential bagel and get some rhythm.
A left-handed Briton held at 15 in game eight to wrap up an impressive set and level the overall score after an hour and 47 minutes. Nadal made a fresh start in the third set and broke Draper at 2-1 following the youngster's double fault.
Jack struggled physically but broke back in game seven thanks to Rafa's loose forehand. The Spaniard clinched a crucial break at 5-4 after the rival's backhand error to wrap up the set and open two sets to one advantage. They traded breaks at the start of the fourth set, and Nadal was the only player in the rest of the duel.
He delivered three straight return games to forge a 5-1 lead and move closer to the finish line. The Spaniard saved break points in game seven and sealed the deal after the rival's forehand error to move into the second round.