Superstar tennis player Rafael Nadal did not have a smooth first round at the Australian Open on Monday.
It all came to a halt during the first set of Nadal’s match against Jack Draper when the 22-time Grand Slam champion went to his courtside seat to switch tennis rackets.
«It’s this one for the crossbar, not that one,» Nadal could be heard explaining to the referee.
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Nadal then emphasized how badly he needed his particular racket.
«I need my racket back! It’s not this one. I need the shock absorber and everything,» he added, referring to the little piece of rubber some players put between the strings. The device is known to help reduce the impact players feel when they take shots.
The Spaniard had asked that one of his rackets be re-strung, but the ball boy was wrong. At one point, Nadal turned to Draper to exclaim «the ball boy took my racket.»
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Later in the match, Nadal was not unhappy when the lights came on while the sun was still shining inside the stadium. «Now it’s bothering me a lot,» Nadal told the referee as he pointed towards the floodlights. «The Combination of Lights».
After the match, Nadal called the racket incident a «funny situation».
«Normally, I have the number of rackets under control, so I said I need the stringer, but I need the stringer for the other racket,» Nadal explained, according to Eurosport.
«So [the ball boy] I chose the racket that I was ready to play with. But no problem at all.»
Nadal defeated Draper in four sets and advanced while aiming for a third Australian Open title.
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Nadal won his second career Grand Slam in Melbourne last year by beating Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-5. «Last year had been one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career, there is no doubt about that,» Nadal said.
By winning his first round match, Nadal continues the 26-year streak of a defending champion who made it past the first round of the Australian Open.
Nadal is the top seeded men’s game in this year’s tournament. Next, he will face Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.
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The bizarre scene involving Nadal comes on the heels of Australian player Nick Kyrgios’ decision to withdraw from the tournament due to a knee injury.
Kyrgios was hoping to play, win the tournament in his home country and start the 2023 season with a bang. «Bad timing. Injuries are part of the sport,» he told reporters on Monday via Wide World of Sports in Australia. «I’m devastated obviously, it’s my home hit.»