Home>Sport>Kind draw gives Rafael Nadal fighting chance amid fitness uncertainty
Sport

Kind draw gives Rafael Nadal fighting chance amid fitness uncertainty


Nadal has struggled with injury in the last six months (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

There were question marks over whether Rafael Nadal would even making to the starting line in Melbourne, but the Spaniard will certainly fancy his chances of a deep run after seeing the draw.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win every major twice or more, but injury problems have left him a distant third favourite behind six-time winners Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal was forced to retire from his quarter-final against eventual runner-up Marin Cilic last time out and has only recently recovered from a small thigh issue, which kept him out of the Brisbane International.

The world No. 2 was optimistic about his physical condition after a defeat to Nick Kyrgios at the Fast 4 exhibition event in Sydney and if he is fighting fit then he’ll always be in with a shout.

Round one opponent

Duckworth will face Nadal (Picture: Getty Images)

A home favourite awaits the 2009 champion in round one, with James Duckworth set to be across the net from Nadal.

The Aussie has had his own fair share of injury struggles in recent times and this will be the world No. 238’s first meeting with the 2009 Australian Open champion.

Encouragingly for Nadal, Duckworth was comfortably swept aside by a struggling Andy Murray – who has since announced his plans to retire – in Brisbane, and it’s widely expected he will ease through his first match.

Who else is in his quarter?

De Minaur could face Nadal in round three (Picture: Getty Images)

Nadal will be satisfied with the way his draw has panned out and it’s possible that he will face a trio of Australians in his first three rounds.

The Spaniard would be expected to ease past Duckworth and Matthew Ebden in his opening matches, but young Aussie Alex de Minaur would represent an intriguing challenge in the last-32.

Whoever wins between Kyle Edmund and Tomas Berdych in a thriling first-round encounter would be expected to meet Nadal in the last-16, in a match that’s incredibly tough to call.



Nadal’s potential Australian Open route

R1: Duckworth
R2: Ebden
R3: De Minaur
R4: Berdych
QF: Anderson
SF: Federer
F: Djokovic

Kevin Anderson continues to impress at Grand Slam level and enters this tournament full of confidence after already picking up a title in Pune, so he will hope to be forcing his way into the quarter-finals.

Should Nadal move beyond that point, his two greatest rivals will likely lie in wait, with Federer a potential semi-final opponent and Djokovic the favourite to reach the final.

How far should we expect him to go?

Will Federer meet Nadal in the semi-finals? (Picture: AFP/Getty)

His level of fitness may remain uncertain, but Nadal has a relatively kind draw and will fancy his chances of going deep in the tournament.

A fifth Australian Open meeting with defending champion Federer in the semi-finals would be a fascinating watch, but one would perhaps fancy the Swiss to come through given his impressive start to the season.

That said, at 37 there are no guarantees for the world No. 3 and if Nadal’s body holds up we can expect him to be challenging right until the bitter end.





Source link

Review Overview

Summary