Rafael Nadal makes a welcome return to the ATP Tour this week at the Melbourne Summer Set, where he has been drawn in the same half of the draw as Nick Kyrgios. Another former world No. 1, Andy Murray, also begins his 2022 campaign at the ATP 250 event that begins Tuesday.
Spanish superstar Nadal, who has not played competitively since August 5, 2021 at the Citi Open due to a left foot injury, will challenge Marcos Girón or a qualifier in the second round. The 88-time circuit-level champion could face fourth seed David Goffin or Kyrgios in the semi-finals.
Nadal leads Goffin 4-2 in their ATP Head2Head series and the 35-year-old has a 5-3 lead over Kyrgios, having won their last two meetings (Wimbledon 2019, Australian Open 2020). Six of the 11 sets they have played in their last three matches, including Kyrgios’ victory at Acapulco 2019, have been tiebreaks.
Kyrgios will try for the first time to break a five-game losing streak in his first game since September against Alex Molcan, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of last year’s Belgrade Open.
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Second seed Reilly Opelka and third seed Grigor Dimitrov feature in the bottom half of the table, which includes fifth seed Benoit Paire, eighth seed Mackenzie McDonald, former World No. 3 Kevin Anderson and Murray.
Opelka, which reached its first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto last year, could face Paire, Anderson or Jaume Munar in the quarter-finals. If Murray beats Facundo Bagnis in the first round, he would challenge Dimitrov for the 12th time (Murray leads 8-3).
In an attempt to get matches under his belt, Nadal also participates in Melbourne’s doubles draw with Munar. They face Australians Marc Polmans and Alexei Popyrin in the first round. Dimitrov and Goffin also team up in a field led by Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan are second seeds.
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