• Rafael Nadal is set to return to action on Jan. 16
  • Nadal has won a total of 22 Grand Slam titles
  • Nadal and Djokovic have been drawn in opposite brackets

Rafael Nadal will begin his Australian Open title defense by taking on young British player Jack Draper in the first round.

The former World No. 1 defeated Daniil Medvedev in five sets in the final last year to clinch his second Australian Open trophy. That made Nadal only the third men's player, after Rod Laver and Novak Djokovic, to win each of the Grand Slam titles at least twice.

In the latest Australian Open draw, Nadal and Djokovic were placed in opposite brackets, meaning, the two legends could only meet in the final.

The 2023 Australian Open will begin on Jan. 16, with Nadal playing on the opening day of the tournament at Melbourne Park. But the order of play for the first-round matches is yet to be revealed.

Rafael Nadal vs. Jack Draper: Tennis fans in the U.S. can watch the match live on ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, & ESPN+

The first-round game will be a tricky one for the 22-time Grand Slam winner, who has already lost two games this year as a part of the United Cup with Spain.

Draper, who qualified for ATP World Tour Finals last year, clinched two wins over top 10 players across the season. The Britain player defeated then-World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the Canadian Open and then-World No. 8 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of the US Open.

"It'll be amazing to play on court with him, he's a great champion. [There are] a lot of emotions obviously when I think of playing him, but that's one thing, I've still got to go and play tomorrow and hopefully do well in this tournament first," Draper told ATP.

The 21-year-old player went on to add that irrespective of the result in Melbourne, playing against Nadal will be a "special occasion" for him.

"I'm still very young in my career, so it's great to have these sorts of experiences and exposure to playing someone like Rafa on a big court like that. But I want to play really well and I want to compete hard and do the best I can," added Draper.

Rafael Nadal reacts as he heads to defeat against Taylor Fritz

Meanwhile, the upcoming edition of the Australian Open will see nine-time champion Djokovic return to the hard-court Grand Slam after his visa was revoked last year and the Serbian ace was deported from the country for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.