Rafa Nadal has been handed an extremely tough task of defending his Australian Open title after a 'brutal' pathway to the final, while Nick Kyrgios is projected to face Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final. The No.1 seed and reigning champ has started the season 0-2 and will be ruing his fortune after drawing British young gun Jack Draper.
The 21-year-old has reached the semi-final of the Adelaide International 2 after defeating Lorenzo Sonego, No.8 seed Tommy Paul and No.3 seed Karen Khachanov. If Nadal is to defeat the in-form youngster and reach Round 4, he could face his US Open conquerer Frances Tiafoe.
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If he makes the Round of 16, Nadal could be facing a rematch of the 2022 Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev. A final showdown with Novak Djokovic could also be on the cards.
On the other side of the draw, Australian Kyrgios held his best seeding in years at No.20. Except it didn't benefit him too much in the draw with the enigmatic Aussie facing a potential showdown with emerging star Holger Rune in the third round.
Next up could be Russian Andre Rublev, before a potential quarter-final showdown with Djokovic.
The tennis world was quick to react after the Australian Open draw with some labelling Nadal's draw in particular as 'terrible'.
Aussie Alex de Minaur is also projected to face Djokovic in Round 4.
On the women's side, Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic received a brutal draw for her home slam.
Australia's top women's hope should be confident in her opening match against Argentina's World No.192 Nadia Podoroska.
But then it gets treacherous for the World No.35.
Tomljanovic could then face 2020 champion Sofia Kenin or two-time Open winner Victoria Azarenka in round two.
If she is to make it to round 3, 2022 Wimbledon and US Open quarter-finalist Madison Keys could be waiting.
Rafa Nadal ready ahead of Australian Open
Nadal started his season 0-2 for the first time in his illustrious career having lost both his ties at the United Cup in Sydney earlier this month.
However, the 36-year-old has been training hard ahead of his first round match. And the 22-time grand slam champ has reassured fans that he is in good shape and ready to defend his title.
"Well, it's true that the last couple of months I was not able to play much tennis and at the beginning of the season I lost two matches in Sydney, but honestly I am not unhappy with the preparation," Nadal told reporters in Melbourne.
"I need to win matches for sure. But the preparation is going quite well, practising a lot and I think I am in good shape. Then you need to demonstrate that in the matches, in the official tournaments. But I'm confident that if I am able to have this last week of positive practices, why not?"
Nadal took part in the 'Tennis Plays for Peace' exhibition event on Wednesday night to help raise money for the humanitarian relief efforts for the people in Ukraine.
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