Rafael Nadal launched his Australian Open title defence with a four-set victory over Britain’s Jack Draper on Monday, as home hope Nick Kyrgios quit through injury without hitting a ball.
In the women’s draw, top seed Iga Swiatek survived a tough examination while Jessica Pegula and teenage prodigy Coco Gauff were both emphatic winners on the first day of action.
Spanish great Nadal, 36, had been in poor form by his sky-high standards, losing six of his last seven matches stretching back to defeat in the last 16 at the US Open.
In fast-rising Draper, 21, the 22-time Grand Slam champion faced a stern test to start his campaign at a sweltering Melbourne Park.
Top seed Nadal recovered from a second-set wobble — and a bizarre incident when a ball boy accidentally took his racquet — to defeat the 38th-ranked Briton 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal, who recently became a father, faces American Mackenzie McDonald in round two.
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