Jack Draper’s Clash With Rafael Nadal Will Top The Bill On The Opening Day Of Australian Open


Jack Draper’s eagerly anticipated first round against defending champion Rafael Nadal will top the bill on Monday’s opening of the Australian Open.

The exact schedule was due to be announced but it is assured that Emma Raducanu will also play on the first day, while Andy Murray will wait until Tuesday for his tough assignment against Matteo Berrettini.

Another Brit starting on the second day will be Dan Evans, who has floated the idea of Tim Henman becoming more formally involved with the elite side of British tennis.

Jack Draper will top the billing with Rafael Nadal on the opening day of the Australian Open

Nadal is the defending champion and will be a huge test for the rising British star

Nadal is the defending champion and will be a huge test for the rising British star

Earlier this month Henman was captain of the GB team which reached the quarter final of the mixed United Cup event, and he made a favourable impression with both the male and female members of the squad.

Evans enjoyed playing under Henman, but has also come to a truce with Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith, whose doubles selections he criticised after failing to make the finals week last year.

The 32 year-old Midlander, who will face Argentinian Facundo Bagnis next week, has decided to make himself available for GB’s first round next month against Colombia. Inconveniently, the match will take place on clay in Bogota immediately after the Australian Open.

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Working with Henman clearly made an impression, and Evans believes it would benefit the Lawn Tennis Association to make it worth the former world number four’s while to become more involved.

‘I would be talking out of turn to say you need to pay him properly if you want him helping other people,’ said Evans. ‘I don’t know if that question has been asked or not by the federation (LTA) but if it has not, it is staggering.

Emma Raducanu will play on Monday as she battles to be fully fit for the Grand Slam

Emma Raducanu will play on Monday as she battles to be fully fit for the Grand Slam

Andy Murray plays 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini on the second day

Andy Murray plays 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini on the second day

‘These guys, the ex-players, need to be kept in the game, the very good ones anyway. Tim was popular, he was great, he really helped.

new balance

‘I think the girls will be the first to say he was amazing for them. He was really easy to be around on court. Not pressuring people, it was simple, basic advice and it probably surprised them a bit that it was so simple. And it was passionate.

‘That is basically what tennis is. You try hard and run after the ball and hit it in. But it is amazing how many times we don’t think like that. ‘

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Henman has a busy schedule of corporate and commentary work, and sits on the main committee of the All England Club. Evans hopes he would be persuaded to take a more hands-on role at the top end of the game.

With not one of nine players entered getting through qualifying – and some of them appearing to be in a LTA-assisted comfort zone – GB continues to punch below its weight.

Dan Evans (right) has tipped Andy Murray to have a bigger role in elite tennis in Britain

Dan Evans (right) has tipped Andy Murray to have a bigger role in elite tennis in Britain

‘I think it would be good if he were involved more but there are obvious things in the way of that. You have got to pay him properly and whether people are willing to do that and invest in that, I don’t know,’ added the British men’s number two, seeded 25 next week.

The Davis Cup competition has been thrown into more difficulties by the sadly predictable end to the involvement of Gerard Pique’s Kosmos Group, whose supposed $3 billion deal to stage it over 25 years proved financially unrealistic.

Evans added with a smile: ‘Disappointed that they can’t keep filling our pockets. I think it was a matter of time, wasn’t it? We were getting paid a little too much for not a lot, I guess.’

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There should be plenty of embarrassment at the demise of the of the Kosmos project, including at the All England Club, which was among its supporters.

Meanwhile, Cam Norrie this morning reached the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland with a 6-3 6-4 win over American Jenson Brooksby. He was awaiting the winner of the second semi-final between Frenchmen Constant Lestienne and Richard Gasquet.



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