Rafael Nadal faces up to eight weeks out of action with the hip flexor injury he sustained on his way out of the Australian Open.

The defending champion and top seed in Melbourne was bundled out 6-4 6-4 7-5 by world number 65 Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday, struggling to move around the court during the closing stages of the contest.

He refused to retire and afterwards confirmed he aggravated an issue he had been suffering with for a couple of days. The 36-year-old Spaniard knew the problem he had been suffering with for a "couple of days" had worsened, but he was unsure exactly what was causing it.

Now Nadal has clarity, receiving details of the injury after tests on Thursday.

He knows that provided all goes to plan, he should be back on court for the clay-court stretch in Europe leading up to the French Open, where the 14-time winner is also the defending champion.

Nadal wrote on Twitter: "Good afternoon. I have carried out medical tests after the defeat yesterday. The MRI shows a grade two lesion in the iliopsoas of the left leg. Now it's sports rest and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time six to eight weeks."

The 22-time major winner may struggle to get back to full fitness in time for the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 events in March.

Those are due to be preceded on his schedule by a high-profile exhibition match in Las Vegas against Carlos Alcaraz on March 5; however, both men are presently injured, raising doubts over whether that will go ahead.

Nadal was distraught to suffer yet another injury setback, after severe foot and abdomen problems hit his 2022 season.

"In terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, I mean, that's another one," Nadal said on Wednesday. "I can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying."

Casper Ruud made two grand slam finals last year, but his 2023 Australian Open campaign fell to pieces with a shock second-round loss to 22-year-old Jenson Brooksby.

American Brooksby prevailed on his fifth match point, after fluffing three in the third set, when second seed Ruud hit a return long. That sealed a 6-3 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 victory in three hours and 55 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Ruud's demise on Thursday means he joins top seed Rafael Nadal in exiting early in Melbourne, with the Norwegian departing in the Spaniard's wake after struggling through the first two sets before a medical time-out prior to the third.

Ruud staved off three match points at 5-3 down in the third, when Brooksby got tight with victory in sight, before winning the set in a tie-break.

However, Brooksby regained his composure in the fourth set and broke twice early to open up a 3-0 lead, barely looking back.

Brooksby's triumph is the biggest of his career, having only ever previously beaten one top-10 player, Stefanos Tsitsipas, at last year's Indian Wells. It also provides an early highlight in Brooksby's first Australian Open, having missed out in 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the tournament.

"I was just really proud of my mental resolve after that third-set battle didn’t go my way," Brooksby said during an on-court post-match interview. "I thought I was playing really strong. I didn’t want to lose my focus out there."

Ruud, who was the runner-up at both the 2022 French Open and 2022 US Open, could not match Brooksby's 50 winners, while the Norwegian committed 55 unforced errors. He also failed to capitalise on Brooksby's unconvincing 57 per cent first-serve percentage.

 

Data Slam: Americans maintain winning form in men's singles

Brooksby's triumph sets up a third-round date with compatriot Tommy Paul as the Americans continue to make waves in the men's singles draw. It was another American, Mackenzie McDonald, who upset Nadal on Wednesday, while a flood of US stars have reached the third round.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Brooksby – 2/2
Ruud – 5/4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Brooksby – 50/48
Ruud – 33/55

BREAK POINTS WON

Brooksby – 9/13
Ruud – 4/12

Rafael Nadal refused to retire from his second-round match at the Australian Open despite suffering a hip injury in his shock defeat.

The reigning champion and top seed in Melbourne crashed out on Wednesday, going down 6-4 6-4 7-5 to world number 65 Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal started sloppily in the first set and then pulled up with an apparent upper leg issue after chasing a forehand at 4-3 down in the second, and his movement was clearly hampered from that point on.

The 36-year-old confirmed he aggravated an issue he had been suffering with for a "couple of days" prior to his meeting with McDonald.

Nadal could well have handed McDonald a walkover, but explained that as defending champion, he did not want to go out without a fight.

"I considered all the time stopping, but I didn't ask," he said in a press conference. "I have to know myself, and I tried to keep playing without increasing the damage.

"I was not able to hit the backhand at all. I was not able to run for the ball. But I just wanted to finish the match. That's it.

"I didn't ask them [his team]. I am old enough to take my own decisions. I didn't want to retire, [as] defending champion here. No, I didn't want to leave the court with a retirement.

"It's better like this. I lost. Nothing to say. Congratulations to the opponent. Just try your best till the end, it doesn't matter the chances that you have.

"That's the philosophy of the sport. That's the essence of the sport by itself. I tried to follow that during all my tennis career, and I tried of course to not increase the damage, because I didn't know what's going on."

Nadal, who is the first top seed to go out in the second round of the Australian Open since Gustavo Kuerten in 2001, is unsure as to the extent of his injury.

"I don't know what's going on, if it's a muscle, if it's a joint. I have history in the hip, I had issues. I had to do treatments in the past," he said.

"Now I feel I cannot move. But I don't know till I do the test and all this stuff, I don't know. I don't know.

"I'm tired of talking about it. I understand, but I lost the match. That's it. I tried until the end. I don't know if in good condition I would win the match. I will have better chances without a doubt."

Nadal added that he would be "lying" if he said he had been mentally destroyed by the issue, given the comfort of his life outside tennis.

However, the 22-time grand slam champion is still motivated to return to the court.

"It's a very simple thing: I like what I do. I like playing tennis," he added.

"I know it's not forever. I like to feel competitive. I like to fight for the things that I have been fighting for almost half of my life or even more. 

"It's not that complicated to understand, no? When you like to do one thing, sacrifices always make sense. When you do things that you like to do, at the end of the day, it's not a sacrifice. You are doing the things that you want to do. Sacrifice is when you are doing things that you don't want to do."

The Spaniard conceded another long spell away from the court would be difficult, though.

He said: "Of course it's tiring and frustrating to spend a lot of [this] part of my career recovering and trying to fight against all this stuff all the time.

"I have had seven months playing almost nothing, and then if I have to spend a long time again, then it's super difficult in the end to be in rhythm and to be competitive and to be ready for the fight. Let's see how the injury is, and then let's see how I can manage to follow the calendar."

Novak Djokovic set off on his Melbourne mission to match Rafael Nadal's haul of 22 grand slams, promising: "I know how to handle it."

The title favourite and nine-time champion swept through his first Australian Open match in two years, beating Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3 6-4 6-0.

Deported from Melbourne last year amid a vaccination saga, and denied the chance to defend his title, Djokovic received a rousing welcome on Rod Laver Arena.

"I felt very welcome on the court," Djokovic said. "Especially the Serbian community that is big here in Australia has welcomed me in an incredible way. So much support. So much love."

The 35-year-old from Belgrade dropped just four points in the closing set, with the hamstring injury that hampered his preparation seemingly giving him no fresh cause for concern.

"The leg is good. It's not ideal, but it's getting there. Today was a really good test," he added.

Djokovic will join Nadal at the top of the men's all-time list of slam triumphs should he pick up a 10th title at Melbourne Park next week. He may soon be looking at overtaking Margaret Court, who won 24 singles slams, the most by any player.

"They're just numbers in the end of the day," Djokovic said, when asked about the targets in his sights.

"I've been in the situations before where I've played for some really big historic things, and I've been blessed to have I would say more success than failures in those particular situations.

"I know how to behave, I know how to handle it. Let's see how far I can go."

Mother Dijana and father Srdan have joined Djokovic in Australia this year, as has brother Marko.

His parents have not made the trip to Melbourne since 2008, the year Djokovic won a first grand slam in Australia.

"Well it's really not around the corner from Serbia. Australia is a pretty long way," said Djokovic, explaining why they usually stayed away.

"That's probably the biggest reason. They've come to watch me in Paris, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon, US Open. In particular, Australian Open has been a bit of a trip for my parents particularly.

"I'm really glad to have them here. The last time they were here, actually the only time they were here, was back in 2008. We have some great memories and considerations about the time that they spent here together now 15 years ago. Hopefully they can stay all the way, I can stay all the way, and we can have another great celebration."

Rafael Nadal says winning matches is the perfect cure to his injury problems after kicking off his Australian Open title defence with victory in four sets against Jack Draper.

Top seed Nadal's class told on Rod Laver Arena in a match lasting three hours and 43 minutes as he prevailed 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1 to reach the second round for the 17th time.

The 36-year-old was competing for just the eighth time since September's US Open, with Monday's victory over Draper his first of 2022.

Not only has Nadal spent time recuperating from injuries, he is also adapting after becoming a father for the first time in October.

However, in his first grand slam since the birth of his child, Nadal says simply winning trophies is providing him with all the motivation he needs.

"I am enjoying life having a new member in the family," he told reporters. "I've always loved kids. To be able to enjoy this new moment in my life is something beautiful.

"But in terms of competitive feelings or motivation, it doesn't create any impact. It'd only create a negative impact if I was here a month, and they were not able to be with me. 

"You don't know how you're going to react, you know? I've always been very respectful with the changes in life. You don't know how you're going to adapt. 

"I don't know my feeling if the baby's not here with me for one month. I don't know if after three weeks I miss him, and I'll lose a little bit the focus.

"I have always been excited enough to play every single tournament. My approach to the competition is not changing much being a dad or not."

 

Nadal has now lost only one of his 18 matches at this stage of the Australian Open, with that defeat coming at the hands of Fernando Verdasco in 2016.

The record 22-time major winner did not have it all his own way against Draper, who appeared to be heavily affected by cramp later in the match.

He was not always at his confident best and made some uncharacteristic errors to allow his British opponent back into the match, but he ultimately got the job done.

"I am ready to keep fighting," Nadal said of his recent injury issues. "Victories help. When you win matches, you are more relaxed and you are more confident.

"I needed a victory, so that's the main thing. It doesn't matter the way it happens. The most important thing today is a victory against a tough opponent."

Draper levelled up the match at 1-1 and in the process became one of only 12 players to have taken a set off Nadal at this stage of a grand slam.

"As I said before the tournament started, this was one of the toughest first rounds possible being seeded," Nadal said.

"To win against Jack, I needed to do things well. I think I did things well. So I'm satisfied with the victory because that's give me the chance to play again in a couple of days.

"I accepted the mistakes I made. I was humble enough to accept that there was going to be a little bit of ups and downs during the match. 

"This is typical when you're not in a winning mood. When you lose more, when you are not competing every week, that's the case. I accept these mistakes and keep going."

Nadal will now face Mackenzie McDonald in the last 64 after the American beat compatriot Brandon Nakashima in a five-set thriller.

Rafael Nadal secured his first win of the year as he began the defence of his Australian Open title by beating Jack Draper 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1.

The number one seed did not have it all his own way against the Briton, but ultimately the class and fitness of the 36-year-old made the difference as Draper – 15 years Nadal's junior – appeared to be heavily affected by cramp later in the match.

Nadal had lost six of his last seven tour-level matches coming in, but gained the advantage after he managed to break at 6-5 up in an even first set against the big-serving Draper.

Draper fought back emphatically as he raced into a 4-0 lead in the second, seeing it out comfortably to level up at 1-1, but he appeared to start cramping just two games into the third set.

Nadal took advantage and went 4-1 ahead, but the Spaniard did not always seem at his confident best himself as some uncharacteristic errors allowed his opponent back in, with Draper breaking back and managing to get to 4-4.

Nadal was able to break again to take the set 6-4, and despite Draper breaking serve in the opening game of the fourth, that was his last success of the match as the 21-year-old's legs clearly started to affect his movement and serve, with Nadal finding it simple enough to close out the win.

Data slam: Nadal matches Lendl for career wins

This was the 1,068th win of Nadal's career, bringing him level with Ivan Lendl.

The 22-time grand slam winner is now tied for third most victories in the Open Era, behind only Jimmy Connors (1,274) and Roger Federer (1,251).

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 41/46

Draper – 35/46

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 6/3

Draper – 13/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 6/12

Draper – 4/11

The Professional Tennis Players Association is committed to equal pay for men and women at grand slam level, according to the man who teamed up with Novak Djokovic to launch the organisation.

Vasek Pospisil, whose on-court doubles efforts helped Canada win the Davis Cup for the first time in November, said the PTPA would "fight for both sides" in its efforts to improve players' prospects throughout the sport.

The breakaway union has caused controversy, with the ATP and WTA, which run the men's and women's tours, adamant they already have significant player representation when it comes to making decisions in the best interests of tennis.

Djokovic quit as president of the ATP player council to become the figurehead of the PTPA, which was launched at the height of the pandemic during the 2020 US Open.

There was initial criticism of the PTPA when no women appeared to be involved.

However, Pospisil said at the time discussions were ongoing, and ahead of the upcoming Australian Open, its first executive committee was unveiled, consisting of four men and four women.

Joining Djokovic and Pospisil are Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner, plus WTA players Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Zheng Saisai.

Pay has been equal at all the grand slams since 2007, when Wimbledon announced it would reward women the same amount it pays men.

Asked about equal pay at the four majors and the PTPA's position, Pospisil told Stats Perform: "From day one, we always knew that this would only be successful with the women, and that has always been our goal. And so we're really happy that we're gaining a lot of traction now on the women's side.

"Currently, there is equal pay at the grand slam level, I believe, so that's obviously amazing.

"It is a joint organisation, both men and women, and we'll do everything to fight for both sides.

"Obviously, they're separate tours. The WTA, ATP, and grand slams are joined, of course. So, the staff will have their hands full with trying to advocate for both sides.

"It's a unified player association for both men and women, and we're really proud of that and where we're going."

Those already involved, and those the PTPA will hope to attract, are being advised the union is aiming to bolster the rights – and at the bottom line, the earning potential – of all involved.

There is currently significantly more money on offer on the ATP tour than on the WTA circuit, which points to issues of inequality remaining in the sport.

It has been known in recent times for some high-profile tournaments, where tours converge, to pay its men's champion more than its title-winning woman. This is despite events on both tours being best-of-three-set matches, whereas in the slams women play best-of-three and men play best-of-five, a matter that has long been a trigger for equal-pay debate.

Pospisil believes the WTA has a "smart and passionate" group of eight on its ExCo and said the "energy was amazing" when the group met for dinner on Thursday in Melbourne.

"I just have such a good feeling after a few years of working on this," Pospisil said. "To finally be at the stage where we're ready to go, are launching, got everything we need, and we have amazing player board reps that honestly we couldn't be happier with."

Djokovic, a 21-time singles grand slam winner, is at the forefront, and Pospisil said the 35-year-old Serbian's role has been crucial.

"I feel like you need somebody that is at the top of the sport," Pospisil said. "So, I just think all the players and our organisation, we're very lucky that he's so supportive and that he's stuck his neck out and is fighting for what he believes in and what he believes is right."

Rafael Nadal has denied he has already decided to follow Roger Federer into retirement after this year's French Open.

The Spaniard wil turn 37 in June, and calling time on his career at the grand slam he has won a record 14 times might be the ideal way to sign off.

Making predictions for the season, Germany's Alexander Zverev told Eurosport: "Unfortunately, I think Rafa will retire at Roland Garros. I don't want it to happen, but I think he will have a great tournament, potentially win it and say goodbye."

That would mean Nadal joining his former great rival Federer in waving goodbye to a glorious career after the Swiss played for the last time at the Laver Cup in September. Nadal's tears that night in London pointed to a realisation his own time on tour was also nearing its end.

However, Nadal denies Zverev has been given any encouragement to throw out such a specific retirement suggestion, which was revealed ahead of the Australian Open.

Nadal is the defending champion in Melbourne, and he also took the Paris slam last year to reach 22 for his career, putting him one ahead of Novak Djokovic.

"I don't know what's going to happen in six months," Nadal said, quoted by Eurosport.

"I have a very good relationship with Zverev, but not enough to confess something like that to him.

"The reality is that I'm here to play tennis, try to have a great 2023, fight for everything that I have struggled throughout my career, and I don't think about my retirement.

“You think about it week after week because that's how you show me at every press conference. But I will answer the same every time you ask me."

Nadal has lost six of his last seven tour-level matches, suggesting he might struggle to make serious inroads in his title defence, which starts against Britain's Jack Draper on Monday.

Asked if he felt vulnerable, Nadal said: "Yeah, of course. Without a doubt. I have been losing more than usual, so that's part of the business.

"I think I am humble enough to accept that situation and just work with what I have today. I need to build again all this momentum. I need to build again this confidence with myself with victories. But it's true that I have been losing more than usual.

"I already have been here for three weeks, practising every day with the conditions, with the best players. That helps a lot in general terms.

"My situation, I don't know what can happen on Monday, but my personal feeling, without a doubt, is better now than three weeks ago, in general terms."

Cameron Norrie missed the chance to cap his New Zealand homecoming as he was beaten 4-6 6-4 6-4 by Richard Gasquet in the Auckland Open final on Saturday.

Norrie grew up in Auckland, and the British number one reached his first ATP Tour-level final in the city in 2019.

But despite repeating that feat and then winning the opening set of Saturday's final, Frenchman Gasquet roared back to lift his first title on the ATP Tour since 2018.

After they split the opening two sets, Norrie looked to be on the way to victory when he held a 4-1 lead in the decider.

But 36-year-old Gasquet rattled off five straight sets, including two breaks of serve, to shock the second seed and become the oldest champion in the Auckland Open's 66-year history.

"It's an amazing title for me, especially now at my age," Gasquet told a post-match news conference. "I really didn't think I would win again.

"I'm 37 this year, so when I came here last week, if you were to tell me next Saturday you will win here, I wouldn't believe it."

Norrie gets his Australian Open campaign underway against wildcard Luca van Assche on Monday, while Gasquet will play fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the first round.

At the Adelaide International 2, Kwon Son-woo defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-4) to take the crown.

Bautista Agut, who knocked out defending champion Thanasi Kokkinakis in the semi-finals, hit back from losing the opening set to level the game with a strong second stanza.

The deciding set went all the way to a tie-break as both players lost two of their service games, but with Kwon 5-4 up in the pivotal tie-break, the world number 84 found two breaks of serve to complete the victory.

The win was Kwon's second ATP Tour title and first since lifting the Astana Open trophy in 2021, while he becomes the first South Korean to win multiple Tour-level titles.

Cameron Norrie will get a chance to cap his New Zealand homecoming with a title at the Auckland Open.

The British number one, who spent much of his childhood in New Zealand and Auckland specifically, reached his first ATP Tour-level final in the city in 2019, and has repeated that feat this time out.

Norrie made light work of Jenson Brooksby on Friday, winning 6-3 6-4.

He will face Richard Gasquet, who progressed via walkover due to Constant Lestienne's withdrawal through injury, in Saturday's showdown.

Norrie has won all six of his matches this season, three in Auckland and three at the United Cup, where he beat Rafael Nadal.

"It was an absolute battle with Jenson. A lot of long rallies and I know how well he competes, so it was nice to get it done in straight sets," said Norrie.

"He puts the ball in such awkward parts off the court and I had to come up with a lot of really tough shots on the run and a lot of big passes.

"I was able to serve it out and stay really calm and get over the line, but he's a great player."

At the Adelaide International 2, defending champion Thanasi Kokkinakis fell just short of reaching the final again.

He battled back from a set down to force a decider against Roberto Bautista Agut, but it was the Spaniard who prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3.

Bautista Agut will face Soonwoo Kwon in the final, after the world number 84 defeated Norrie's compatriot Jack Draper 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

Nick Kyrgios believes only "a clown" would give Novak Djokovic a hard time at the Australian Open as the Serbian chases a major slice of tennis history.

It was Kyrgios who prominently came to Djokovic's defence when the nine-time champion at Melbourne Park was detained in an immigration facility and then deported ahead of last year's Australian Open due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The previously testy relationship between the pair has become increasingly friendly, to the point they will meet in a practice match at Rod Laver Arena on Friday, ahead of the season's first grand slam. That match sold out in a flash, reflecting the popularity of both men.

Kyrgios described their growing closeness as a "bromance" at Wimbledon last year, although Djokovic laughed off that label.

Djokovic, who has refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, will have many on his side over the coming fortnight as he chases a 10th grand slam in Australia and a 22nd overall, which would match Rafael Nadal's men's singles record.

Tournament director Craig Tiley has said anyone that boos Djokovic would risk being thrown out, while Kyrgios called for "respect" to be shown to the 35-year-old superstar.

Kyrgios described Djokovic as "the best that we've got", adding: "I would say, Novak's here and he hasn't made any rules. He's abided by them for the last two years or whatever.

"He's here and all he wants to do is put on a show. He's chasing things that athletes rarely are able to chase. He's one of the greatest athletes of all time, not just in the tennis court.

"I think as fans we should be appreciating that. I know there's going to be fans who are not wanting him to win, but I think they can't cross that line as fans.

"You guys have paid money to watch a guy play, it's a bit contradictory if you're going to go there and be a clown about it.

"You've got to respect him a little bit at the end of the day because he's one of the best who's ever done it."

Kyrgios has a 2-1 record against Djokovic, though both of his wins came back in 2017 and Djokovic won in four sets in their last meeting: the 2022 Wimbledon final.

Should they both win through the early rounds in the season's first grand slam, the draw is such that they could go head to head again in the quarter-finals.

Already, Kyrgios is talking about possibly abandoning doubles duty with Thanasi Kokkinakis in order to focus on singles.

He and Kokkinakis took the doubles title last year, but Kyrgios said on Thursday: "We're singles players at heart and the doubles grand slam last year was a flash in the pan.

"We haven't had one conversation about doubles yet. If we play, we play; if we don't, we don't."

Casper Ruud was given a wake-up call ahead of the Australian Open as he was beaten by Laslo Djere in Auckland.

Ruud, who was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final last year, was the top seed in New Zealand but came unstuck in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Djere came from behind to defeat the Norwegian world number three 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3) and seal his place in the quarter-finals, where he will meet Constant Lestienne.

In the process, Djere recorded his first career victory over a top-five opponent.

Ruud must now shrug off the disappointment and switch his focus to Melbourne, where he will be hoping to break his grand slam duck.

David Goffin overcame qualifier Christopher Eubanks in straight sets to tee up a last-eight tie with Richard Gasquet, while Jenson Brooksby received a walkover due to Diego Schwartzman's injury.

Unlike Ruud, second seed Cameron Norrie did make it through. The world number 12, who spent the majority of his childhood in New Zealand, enjoyed a homecoming as he saw off Jiri Lehecka 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.

Norrie is unbeaten in 2023, having beat Alex De Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Rafael Nadal while in action for Great Britain at the United Cup.

"Obviously, there were [some] nerves in me, coming back to New Zealand I wanted to play well in front of everyone, and Jiri's a great player," said the 27-year-old.

"So, it wasn't easy, and credit to him in that second set for playing a really good tie-break. He really took it to me, but I really enjoyed the time on the court."

There was also a shock at the Adelaide International 2, where top seed Andrey Rublev succumbed to wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Rublev hit back after losing the first set but Kokkinakis ultimately prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta also fell out, losing to Kwon Soon-woo, leaving third seed Karen Khachanov as the favourite after his straight sets defeat of Marc-Andrea Huesler.

Mikael Ymer, Jack Draper, Miomir Kecmanovic, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Roberto Bautista Agut all progressed.

Novak Djokovic cut short a practice match against Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday as a hamstring injury lingers ahead of the Australian Open.

Record nine-time Melbourne champion Djokovic is back in Australia after he was denied entry last year and subsequently deported due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The 21-time major winner is expected to be a contender again at the first grand slam of the 2023 season, but his preparations were hampered by an injury scare on Wednesday.

Djokovic, who won his first title of the year in Adelaide last week, was able to complete only a single set of an exhibition against Medvedev.

"It's a hamstring that I had problems with in Adelaide actually last week," he explained to Nine's Wide World of Sports. "It was against Medvedev, when I played the semi-final, and I played with him today in a practice match.

"I just felt it a bit, pulling, and I didn't want to risk anything worse. I played a set, apologised to him, and he was understanding.

"I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open."

Having required a lengthy medical timeout against Medvedev in Adelaide, Djokovic had described the issue as "nothing too serious".

The Serbian is also scheduled to play a practice match against home hopeful Nick Kyrgios this week.

David Goffin got off the mark with his first victory of 2023 with a straight-sets win over fifth seed Alexander Bublik in round one of the Auckland Open.

The Belgian lost both matches at the inaugural United Cup last week, but he saw off Bublik 6-3 6-4 in 74 minutes to reach the last 16 in New Zealand.

Another seeded player fell at the first hurdle on Monday as Adrian Mannarino lost 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to J.J. Wolf.

Richard Gasquet advanced with a 6-3 6-1 win over wild card Kiranpal Pannu, while Jenson Brooksby beat Fabio Fognini 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-3 and will now face Diego Schwartzman.

At the Adelaide International 2, fifth seed Dan Evans suffered a 7-5 7-5 defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.

Fellow seeds Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Miomir Kecmanovic overcame Brandon Nakashima and Kyle Edmund respectively.

Rafael Nadal will return to the Dubai Tennis Championships next month, 15 years after he last competed in the competition.

Victorious in 2006, Nadal has not played at the event since 2008 but will make his return when the competition begins on February 27.

Ranked second in the world, Nadal's campaign in the United Arab Emirates will take place after the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne, where he is bidding to retain the Australian Open title he won 12 months ago.

Since he last featured at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Nadal has established himself as one of the sport's greatest players, something Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and chief executive of the tournament's sponsor Dubai Duty Free, was keen to highlight.

"As one of the most instantly recognisable personalities in global sport, and one of the most decorated players to ever grace the game, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Rafa back to the Dubai Tennis Championships after 15 years," he said.

"The last time Rafa played in Dubai, he had won three grand slams. He returns having amassed more grand slam titles than any other male player in history."

The 36-year-old followed last year's triumph in Australia with victory in the French Open for a record 22nd grand slam title.

Andrey Rublev won last year's Dubai Tennis Championships title, beating Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4 in the final.

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