Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem in straight sets to get his 2021 campaign up and running. Some of the world’s top tennis stars competed in the ‘A Day at the Drive’ exhibition event in Adelaide on Friday.
World No 2 Nadal took on No 3 Thiem in the headline match and it is did not disappoint.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner was made to work for a 7-5, 6-4 victory in front of a packed out stadium.
And after the match he said: “I hope to have the right preparation for the Australian Open, I won there in 2009 but almost everybody has forgotten about that.
“I have been training hard and this year I will keep trying my best.”
Australia has got to grips with the coronavirus and supporters are allowed to attend matches over the coming weeks.
Djokovic then stunned fans by coming out to play the second set, which he won by the same score.
“I am sorry that I didn’t step on the court from the beginning,” he said. “I had to do some treatment with my physio and wasn’t feeling my best the last couple of days.
“I wanted to play. It’s not easy but it’s part of what we do. We are professional athletes, we learn over the years to play with the pain. It’s just a case whether that pain is bearable or not.
“Coming off from the hard training block and having ATP Cup and the Australian Open around the corner, you don’t want to risk it too much. But the emotion in me was so strong to come out to the court today. Seeing the full stands today, I had to play.”