A champion Nadal doubles down on the challenge on Djokovic’s return to Australia

The Spaniard arrives without filming in Melbourne, where the Serbian wants the tenth title and 22nd ‘big’


The Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal begins the Australian Open this Monday as the current champion of the first ‘Grand Slam’ of the season, a 2023 that raises the challenge of the Balearic Islands after various physical problems on his legendary path, with a very demanding team and a highly motivated Novak Djokovic.

Nadal has won the role of favorite and it will be when he debuts on the first day in Melbourne against the British Jack Draper. The man from Manacor had no luck with the draw and he will have to start from a high level at the Rod Laver Arena, when he has lost both games played in 2023: a comeback after seven months of little activity.

For the Spaniard it is not a new situation since 2022 began with six months without playing, with the fear that it would be forever due to his chronic foot injury, and he linked 20 wins. From Australia to Indian Wells, then Roland Garros with his foot asleep, Nadal was unstoppable and lives in a constant epic to get out of injuries and be the historic tennis player with the most ‘big’ (22).

The challenge grows as many journalists ask him about his retirement, after firing Swiss Roger Federer last year. “Every time I come to a press conference it seems that I have to retire. That moment has not arrived,” he said after his defeat against Alex de Minaur in the United Cup. The man from Manacor would later lose to Cameron Norrie and Spain was eliminated.

That was the short preparation for a Nadal who, at 36 and a father for the first time in October, has been explaining that he needs to shoot, win games and grow with tournaments. The current world number two has shown endless hunger and in Australia, where a year ago he rallied from a 2-6, 6-7, 2-3 (0-40) loss to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev to win the title, he will have to come out with everything.

Nadal, the first seed after his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz was out due to injury, will make his debut with a dangerous left-handed player like Draper, world number 40 and recent semifinalist in Adelaide 2. Frances Tiafoe, Denis Shapovalov, Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokovic are the Renowned obstacles in your way.


The Serbian returns to Australia after his deportation last year for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the good appetizer of winning Adelaide and after a full second half of 2022, Wimbledon champion and Master for the sixth time. ‘Nole’ lives on a cloud, as he acknowledged after the show with Nick Kyrgios on Friday at the Rod Laver Arena, and he also seems to be above the rest.

The pools in Melbourne are open to surprises, but Djokovic’s tenth title is what pays the least, a ‘big’ with which he would equal Nadal’s 22. The party is lost by number one Alcaraz, without luck with injuries in the outcome of 2022, in which he missed the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup, and now with a muscle injury in the last preseason training sessions.

In the women’s draw, Spanish tennis also suffered the significant loss of Paula Badosa, after her injury in the quarterfinals of the Adelaide 2 tournament. All eyes thus fall on a Garbiñe Muguruza who continues to hope to break into the circuit again, after a year of troubles, and the big events are a special incentive for the double champion of ‘Grand Slam’.

The favorite will be the Polish Iga Swiatek, number one in the world and semifinalist last year, but the draw gave her a complex path. Ons Jabeur, Cori Gauff, Maria Sakkari, Jessica Pegula or Aryna Sabalenka are other proper names that will seek to make headlines at the serious start of the tennis season.