Rafael Nadal on bizarre moment during Australian Open: ‘The ball boy took my racket’
Superstar tennis player Rafael Nadal did not have a smooth first round at the Australian Open on Monday.
Everything halted during the opening set of Nadal's match against Jack Draper when the 22-time grand slam champion went to his court-side seat to switch tennis racket.
“It’s this one for the stringer, not that one,” Nadal could be heard explaining to the umpire.
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Nadal then emphasized how badly he needed his particular racket.
“I need the racket back! It is not this one. I need the dampener and everything,” he added, referring to the small rubber piece some players put between the strings. The device is known for helping reduce the impact players feel when they hit shots.
The Spaniard had requested one of his rackets be re-stringed, but the ball boy took the wrong one. At one point, Nadal turned to Draper to exclaimed “the ball boy took my racket.”
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Later in the match, Nadal was not unhappy when the lights turned on as the sun still shined inside the stadium. “Now it is bothering me a lot,” Nadal told the umpire while pointing up to the floodlights. “The combination of lights.”
After the match, Nadal called the racket incident a “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, per Eurosport.
“So [the ball boy] picked the racket I was ready to play with. But no problem at all.”
Nadal went on to defeat Draper in four sets and advance as he targets a third Australian Open title.
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Nadal won the second grand slam of his career in Melbourne last year by outlasting 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, no doubt about that,” Nadal noted.
By winning his first-round match, Nadal continues the 26-year streak of a defending champion making it past the Aussie Open's first round.
Nadal is the top-seeded men's play at this year's tournament. Next up, he will face Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.
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The strange scene involving Nadal comes on the heels of Australian player Nick Kyrgios' decision to back out of the tournament due to a knee injury.
Kyrgios was hopeful of playing, winning the tournament in his home country, and starting the 2023 season in grand fashion. “Bad timing. Injuries are part of the sport,” he told reporters Monday via Wide World of Sports in Australia. “I'm devastated obviously, it's my home slam.”