SYDNEY: Rafa Nadal’s preparations for his Australian Open title defense got off to a shaky start as Cameron Norrie handed him a 3-6 6-3 6-4 loss in the Solid cut on Saturday to give Great Britain a 1-0 lead over Spain in the mixed team tournament.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion, who lifted the trophy at Melbourne Park this year and added another French Open title in an otherwise injury-ravaged season, came through the first set but offered Norrie a way out. come back in the next contest.
Nadal holed out with an ace to hold 2-1 in the decider but returned his serve soon after as world number 14 Norrie grew sharper as the contest continued and held on for the first victory over the world number two in five attempts.
“It was pretty crazy… I thought I had never won a set against him before and I wanted to come out and do that first and I had to stay super patient,” Norrie said during his on-court interview. “It was a super physical game.
“I really enjoyed it, it was huge to get through that one and finally beat him. It’s a great way to end the year.”
Norrie credited his preseason training with his ability to dictate basic rallies at Ken Rosewall Arena.
“I had a really good off-season, I played a lot of games and it was good for me. I felt like I was finding really good depth in my shots and dictating the game…I didn’t let him do as much damage with his forehand,” added Norrie.
Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek had no problems in her first game of the season beating Yulia Putintseva 6-1 6-3 to give Poland a 1-0 lead over Kazakhstan in Brisbane.
Earlier, Czech Jiri Lehecka claimed the biggest win of his career as he stunned world number 12 Alexander Zverev 6-4 6-2, before Marie Bouzkova beat Jule Niemeier 6-2 7-5 to give his side a 2-0 lead over Germany. .
Playing in his first competitive match since undergoing surgery to repair his ankle ligaments following an injury at Roland Garros, Zverev looked out of form and struggled on his serve with eight double faults to go down.
Brazil took a 2-0 lead over Norway as Beatriz Haddad Maia and Felipe Meligeni Alves picked up comfortable wins. Belgium and Bulgaria were locked at 1-1.



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