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 on Tuesday.
Spanish superstar Nadal, who has not played competitively since 5 August 2021 at the Citi Open due to a left foot injury, will challenge Marcos Giron or a qualifier in the second round. The 88-time tour-level titlist 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 advantage over Kyrgios, having won their past two meetings (2019 Wimbledon, 2020 Australia Open). Six of the 11 sets they have played in their past three matches, including Kyrgios victory at 2019 Acapulco, have been tie-breaks.
Kyrgios will first attempt to break a five-match losing streak in his first match since September against Alex Molcan, who lost to Novak Djokovic in last year’s Belgrade Open final.
Second seed Reilly Opelka and third seed Grigor Dimitrov feature in the bottom half of the draw, which includes fifth seed Benoit Paire, eighth seed Mackenzie McDonald, former World No. 3 Kevin Anderson and Murray.
Opelka, who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto last year, could face Paire, Anderson or Jaume Munar in the quarter-finals. Should Murray overcome Facundo Bagnis in the first round, he’d then challenge Dimitrov for the 12th time (Murray leads 8-3).
In a bid to get matches under his belt, Nadal is also participating in the Melbourne doubles draw with Munar. They face Australians Marc Polmans and Alexei Popyrin in the first round. Dimitrov and Goffin are also teaming up in a field led by Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan are the second seeds.