It wasn’t all plain sailing for Rafael Nadal in Monday’s first-round victory at the Australian Open.
Midway through the first set against Britain’s Jack Draper, the 22-time Grand Slam winner stood with his arms outstretched and explained to the referee that he was looking for his racket.
“It’s for the stringer, not that,” Nadal can be heard explaining to the referee.
“I need the racquet back! Not this one. I need the damper and everything,” added the Spaniard, referring to the small rubber contraption tennis players place between the strings to soften the impact when they hit a ball.
As it turned out, the caddy had taken Nadal’s damper-equipped racquet to the stringer.
“I don’t think he has a spare, so I think there’s going to be a delay here,” explained Eurosport commentator Guy McRae.
After choosing a different racket, Nadal apologized to Draper, saying: “The caddy took my racket!”
After the match, Nadal described the racket confusion as an “interesting situation”.
“Normally, I control the number of rackets, so I say I need strings, but I need strings from another racket,” Nadal explained, per Eurosport.
“so [the ball boy] Picked out the racket I was going to play with. But there is no problem at all. ”
Later in the match, even though the match was played in sunlight, Nadal spoke to the referee again when the floodlights seemed to turn on automatically.
“It bothers me now,” Nadal told the referee, pointing to the floodlights. “Lighting combination.”
Draper wasn’t happy either, and the referee called stadium staff to fix the problem.
Nadal needs four sets to beat the 21-year-old Draper.
The Briton equalized in the second set at the 36-year-old, but Nadal won 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1 as the match wore on.
Since the last time the defending champion lost in the first round of the Australian Open, Nadal’s victory lasted for 26 years.
“Last year was one of the most exciting tournaments of my tennis career, no question about that,” said Nadal, who went 2-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-5 in last year’s Australian Open final. Lost the first two sets against Daniel Medvedev. “Unfortunately, that has passed, so we need to keep working hard.
“I’m very happy to be back in Australia again. I don’t know, it’s like my 19th season on the professional circuit.
“I’m really excited about this new start…the last few months have not been easy for me, but hopefully this win will help me.”
The Australian Open top seed will now face American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.