TennisSection previews the 2023 United Cup as Rafael Nadal takes on Cameron Norrie in the group stages on Saturday, December 31st, 2022.
Will Rafael Nadal begin his 2023 campaign with a win at the United Cup? Or will Cameron Norrie produce a shock win over the Spaniard? With an unblemished record against the Briton, Nadal looks poised to get Spain’s United Cup campaign off to a winning start.
Rafael Nadal had a rollercoaster year in 2022, but he was unquestionably the man of the hour in Australia. Nadal, who was forced to end his 2021 season prematurely due to a persistent foot injury, produced a career-best start to a season by winning 20 matches on the spin. He won three of his four finals in the first quarter of the year, including a second Australian Open crown – having defied the odds to stun Daniil Medvedev from two-sets-to-love down in the final. But injuries in the second half of the campaign forced him to miss out on a host of Tour-level tournaments. He did add an astonishing 14th French Open title in June and signed off 2022 with a Group Stage exit at the ATP Finals.
Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, has already got a taste of the United Cup format and court conditions. Norrie, leading Great Britain as its top-ranked player, produced the goods by knocking off Australia’s Alex De Minaur. Initially, he was set to face Nick Kyrgios before the flamboyant Aussie withdrew due to injury. That didn’t affect Norrie’s preparations or strategy as he dominated De Minaur with his of spin from the forehand and flat-hitting off the backhand. He will now look to protect his country’s lead in the standings when he takes on Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal leads Cameron Norrie 4-0 in their head-to-head. Worryingly for Norrie and Great Britain, he has not managed to win a single set off Nadal in those four meetings including their Acapulco final in 2022. This will be Nadal’s first match of the season, and while he can be caught cold by Norrie’s unorthodox style of play, I still think Nadal will be able to raise his game down the stretch. Health permitting, of course, Nadal should be the favorite to come out on top.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Rafael Nadal in 3 sets.
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