It wasn’t all smooth sailing in the case of Rafael Nadal in his first-round victory at the Australian Open on Monday.
The first set was in the middle. against British player Jack Draper, the 22-time grand slam winner stood up with his arms open, explaining to the umpire the player was searching at his racket.
“It’s this one for the stringer, not that one,” Nadal was hearing him explain his explanation to an umpire.
“I require the racquet back!” This is not the case. I require the dampener and everythingelse,” said the Spaniard in reference to the tiny rubber device that tennis players put between the strings in order to minimize the impact of their shots.
It turned out that the ball boy had used Nadal’s racket and put it on the dampener towards the stringer.
“I don’t think he has a spare one, so I think there is going to be a delay here,” explained Eurosport commentator Guy McCrea.
After choosing a new racket Nadal was sorry to Draper by saying: “The ball boy took my racquet!”
Following the match, Nadal spoke of the racket incident as an “funny situation.”
“Normally, I have the number of the 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 boy who played ball) selected the racket that I was prepared for play. There was no issue at all.”
In the following match, Nadal had another conversation with the umpire after the floodlights seemed to turn on by themselves despite the fact that the game was playing in the sun.
“Now it is bothering me a lot,” Nadal told the umpire, raising his hand to the floodlights. “The combination of lights.”
Draper was also unsatisfied when the umpire contacted the team members to address the issue.
Nadal required four sets to beat 21-year-old Draper.
The Briton won the second set of Nadal, who is 36, to level the match , but began to cramp as the game progressed, and Nadal ultimately winning 7-5 2-6 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1.
Nadal’s win is the latest in a string that has lasted 26 years since the previous time a champion was defeated in the opening round.
“Last year had been one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career, no doubt about that,” said Nadal who defeated Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7, 7-5 in the last season’s Australian Open final having lost the first two sets. “Unfortunately the tournament was over, but we have to continue working.
“I’m extremely satisfied to be back in Australia for the second time. It’s the 19th time I’ve been in the pro tour.
“I’m very excited about this new beginning… The last couple of months haven’t been easy for me, but hopefully this victory will help me.”
The top seed of the Australian Open will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.