Rafael Nadal reveals his physical shape after the first match

Rafael Nadal had to work hard to beat Jack Draper at the Australian Open

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal reveals his physical shape after the first match

Rafael Nadal arrived in Melbourne with no form or matches. The Spaniard had played only 11 encounters after the last year's Wimbledon before facing the young Briton Jack Draper in a tricky first-round clash. Nadal had to dig deep against the young gun at Rod Laver Arena before earning his season's first victory, beating the Briton 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in three hours and 41 minutes.

Nadal worked hard in the opening three sets against the fellow left-hander before leaving him behind in the fourth, with Draper struggling with cramps. Rafa hit 41 winners and 46 unforced errors and saved seven out of 11 break chances.

The Spaniard broke the Briton six times from 12 opportunities to emerge at the top and secure a significant victory. Draper had the advantage in the rallies up to four strokes, which kept him in touch in the opening three sets.

Nadal took charge in the more extended exchanges to bring the victory home and book a place in round two. Jack struggled with cramps in sets three and four, refusing to surrender and playing until the end during his Australian Open debut.

Nadal was pleased with his physical shape, overcoming a mediocre second set and bouncing back in the third. Jack fended off a break chance at 3-4 in the opener with a service winner.

Rafael Nadal defeated Jack Draper in four sets at Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal kept the pressure on his rival and made one last push on the return in the 12th game.

Rafa forced the rival's mistake to create a set point and seized it with a forehand crosscourt winner for 7-5 in a challenging 54 minutes. Jack took charge in the second set, serving well and finding the rhythm behind the return.

Rafa got broken after Jack's volley winner in the first game, and the youngster held at love in game two. Draper grabbed another break at 2-0 following a backhand down the line bullet that sent him further ahead. Nadal struggled and faced more break points at 0-4.

He saved them to avoid a bagel and get some rhythm. A left-handed Briton held at 15 in game eight to close an impressive set and level the overall score. 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 to wrap up the set and open the essential advantage. They traded breaks at the start of the fourth set, and Nadal took charge from there.

He broke the struggling rival three times in a row to forge a 5-1 lead. The Spaniard saved break points in game seven and sealed the deal after the rival's forehand error to celebrate his first victory of the season. "I have been well physically.

I'm considerably slimmer than a couple of years ago. I have worked hard to shape up my physical state and chase good results. I made a breakthrough today and won an important match. I'm happy with my quickness; I have worked hard, and the result is here.

It's difficult to separate things in tennis. You cover the court more efficiently when you are confident and hit without thinking or hesitation. My automatism is not at the highest level, but the improvements are here. I'm training well and have to translate that to matches," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Jack Draper Australian Open