Rafael Nadal loses favorite racket in strange moment in Australian Open first-round win




CNN

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rafael Nadal in his first-round victory at the Australian Open on Monday.

Midway through the first set against Britain’s Jack Draper, the 22-time Grand Slam winner stood with his arms outstretched as he explained to the referee that he was looking for his racquet.

“It’s this one for the stringer, not that one,” Nadal could be heard explaining to the referee.

“I need to get the racquet back!” It is not. I need the shock absorber and everything,” added the Spaniard, referring to the small rubber device that tennis players place between the strings to soften the impact when they hit.

It turned out that the ballboy had taken Nadal’s racquet with the damper down to the string.

“I don’t think he has a spare, so I think there’s going to be a delay here,” explained Eurosport commentator Guy McCrea.

After selecting another racquet, Nadal apologized to Draper saying, “The ball boy took my racquet!”

After the game, Nadal described the racket snafu as a “funny situation”.

“Normally I have the number of racquets under control, so I said I need the stringer, but I need the stringer for the other racquet,” Nadal explained, per Eurosport.

“So [the ball boy] chose the racquet I was ready to play with. But no problem at all.

Later in the game, Nadal had another conversation with the referee when the floodlights seemed to automatically turn on, despite the game being played in the sun.

“Now it bothers me a lot,” Nadal told the referee as he pointed to the spotlight. “The combination of lights.”

Draper was also unhappy, with the referee calling on stadium staff to sort out the situation.

Nadal needed four sets to beat 21-year-old Draper.

The Briton took the 36-year-old’s second set to equalize but then suffered from cramping as the game developed, with Nadal eventually winning 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1.

Nadal’s win extends a 26-year streak since a defending champion last fell in the first round of the Australian Open.

Nadal and Draper kiss at the net after the Spaniards win.

“Last year was one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career, there’s no doubt about that,” said Nadal, who beat Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7 -5 in the Australian Open final last year. having lost the first two sets. “Unfortunately that has passed, so we have to keep working.

“I’m super happy to be back here in Australia once again. I don’t know, it’s like my 19th season on the pro circuit.

“I am very excited about this new start… The last two months have not been easy for me, but I hope this victory will help me.”

The Australian Open top seed will now face American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.

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