Tuesday,
twenty-one
January
2020

19:09

He gave the final point to his country in the Davis Cup conquered in Zagreb five years ago, but he has not won a single set in his three crosses against world number 1

Delbonis hits a 'drive' against Sousa.
LYNN BO BO EFE

There are still Rafael Nadal, 19 Grand Slam titles, a total of 84 tournaments won, the only number 1 in the world in three different decades, features of the spontaneity that characterized him in the first part of his career. After easily beating Hugo Dellien in his Australian Open debut, where he seeks to match all 20 big by Roger Federer, he attended Jim Courier's questions at the bottom of the track. The former American player asked him to choose the best moment of his formidable 2019, year in which, among other things, he won two majors and the Davis Cup, in addition to returning to the ceiling of the ranking. “My wedding! My wife is here, ”he replied, seconded by the loud laughter of a large part of the public at the Rod Laver Arena Central.

Later he would go into details about the peculiarities of a preparation different from that of 2019, when he was planted in the final tournament just arrived from an injury. This time, the new ATPCup gave him eight games in nine days, a good competitive pace, although at the limit of excess.

As was the case in 14 of his 15 previous appearances, Nadal qualified for the second round of a tournament he won in 2009 and in which he played four finals (2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019). Only Fernando Verdasco stopped him suddenly in 2016. The road to the second week seems quite accessible, waiting for a hypothetical duel with Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16, provided the Australian, who beat Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6 (3) and 7-6 (1) and will see them with Gilles Simon, assert his talent in a competition where he was a quarterfinalist five years ago.

Two minor titles

Nadal awaits him on Thursday in the second round, at a time not determined at the time of writing these lines, Federico Delbonis, who beat Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-4 and 7-6 (3). The Argentine, also left-handed, has not responded to the expectations awakened at the beginning. At 29, the player from Azul, a city in the interior of the province of Buenos Aires, has two small titles, Sao Paulo in 2014 and Marraquech in 2016, both on clay, but, above all, he will be remembered always as the man who gave his country the only Davis Cup, defeating Ivo Karlovic in Zagreb in the fifth point of the 2016 final.

It was in the spring of 2019, a streak of successive injuries, when he wore his best hierarchy to date: 33º. Now 76th, Delbonis has never had good results in Grand Slam tournaments, with the third round of Melbourne, in 2016, as a maximum achievement. The background against Nadal is not encouraging: he lost in Viña del Mar 2013, Buenos Aires 2015 and Rio 2016, without even starting a set. If he wins, Nadal could be measured with Pablo Carreño, a match that would guarantee the presence of a Spaniard in the round of 16 of the tournament.

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