Cameron Norrie backs Jack Draper to trouble Rafael Nadal: ‘It’s a tough job for Rafa’

Jack Draper in action

Cameron Norrie has warned Jack Draper he will need to go to the well if he is to have a chance of upsetting defending champion Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Draper will surely seek the advice of his good friend Norrie ahead of the clash on Rod Laver Arena given the British No 1 claimed a first win over Nadal two weeks ago at the United Cup.

Draper, 21, had his first hit on Laver, Melbourne Park’s biggest court, on Sunday afternoon having arrived late following his run to the semi-finals of Adelaide.

The British No 3 insisted he will go into the clash fully believing he can beat a player he grew up idolising, and Norrie said: “For me, it’s a tough job for Rafa.

“Obviously Jack’s one of the best unseeded players, and I think he’s going to trouble him for sure. I think it’s going to be a good match. I’m looking forward to watching it. But he’s going to have to run a lot and he’s going to have to execute. But, definitely, he has a chance.”

Norrie had lost his first four matches against Nadal, including in Melbourne in 2021, but fought back from a set down to get the better of him in Sydney.

Nadal spoke of his feelings of vulnerability on Saturday following six defeats in seven matches but Norrie offered little comfort to Draper regarding the Spaniard’s form.

“I had to play unreal to beat him,” he said. “I played almost a perfect set in the third set. My whole game kind of came together that day and it was just enough to beat him.

“So, for me, he’s even more dangerous than ever. He’s taken a couple of losses, he’s fresh, he’s feeling good and I think, with guys like that, he’s even more dangerous.

“For me, it’s not going to be surprising if he goes on a mad run or he plays an unreal level because it’s the way he is, and the way he competes is amazing. It’s not going to be easy for Jack for sure.”

READ MORE – Australian Open men’s draw: Rafael Nadal faces Jack Draper; Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic in same quarter

Norrie enjoyed a brilliant week at the United Cup, also beating Australia’s Alex De Minaur and US No 1 Taylor Fritz, and he made it six wins in a row by reaching the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Richard Gasquet spoiled his perfect record to lift the trophy but that did not dent Norrie’s confidence heading into the year’s first grand slam.

The world No 12 arrived in Melbourne late on Saturday night and faces a tight turnaround ahead of a clash with teenage Frenchman Luca Van Assche on Monday, but said: “I am feeling really good.

“Obviously the way I started in Sydney, beating Demon (De Minaur) at home and then Rafa and Fritz, for me, it was perfect to beat those guys in the way that I beat them. The way I played was huge and I took a lot of confidence from that.”

Norrie would not usually want to be playing in a different country so close to a slam but the ASB Classic holds a special place in his heart.

He grew up in Auckland and his parents, who still live there, were among the crowd supporting him.

Norrie struggled to hold back tears during his on-court speech, and he said on Sunday: “(The tournament) is one of the reasons I am playing tennis. Wanting to be one of those players.

“I still have photos with all the players. I practised with (Fabio) Fognini one day and I was showing him photos with me and him.

“I would have liked to have lifted that trophy and that was why I was a bit emotional. But it doesn’t change too much. I am still hungry to keep pushing and hopefully I will get that title one day.”

READ MORE: ATP Tour – Holger Rune and Jack Draper among seven players under 25 to watch in 2023