Rafael Nadal needs more court time. Pic: AFP
Rafael Nadal needs more court time. Pic: AFP

Rafa no lock for Brisbane opener

AN unconvincing Rafael Nadal has stopped short of guaranteeing he will play his first round match at the Brisbane International on Thursday.

Nadal had a second, longer practice session at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Tuesday in which he tested how his body had come up following an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last Saturday.

The world No.2 has not played an ATP Tour match since he withdrew from a US Open match in early September, having been troubled by knee and ankle issues, the latter requiring surgery.

A Thursday start for Nadal would mean he would have to play four matches in four days if he made the Brisbane International final, something at odds with his reluctance to play two matches in two days.

Nadal admitted he was focused on "remaining two days'' on court consecutively.

"My goal of course is to be on court on Thursday and on court with a positive feeling,'' Nadal said, referring to his match against the winner of a clash today between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Rafael Nadal. Pic Annette Dew
Rafael Nadal. Pic Annette Dew

"I hope so. That's why I am here.

"It's difficult for me to think about that (playing four matches in as many days) now.

"I want to fight for the things that motivate me. I want to stay healthy and play as long as possible.

"My goal is to be happy on court ... to keep doing the things that make me feel alive. I want to stay healthy and play as long as possible.

"If I thought I would not play here, it would be difficult to be in front of you today (at a press conference).

"I'm focused on just trying to remain two days to stay on court. If I am able to be there with the right feelings, then I'm going to fight for every day if it's possible.

"Yesterday was a good hit, slow (on the) first day after the (flight). In Abu Dhabi I was very sad, but I decided to not play the day after, to try to do the right things. I'm here, today for Thursday. So I hope to be ready for it.'

'The 32-year-old's January priority, as always leading into a grand slam, is to be as pain free and fit as he can for the Australian Open, which starts on Monday week.

Spain's Rafael Nadal hits the practice courts.
Spain's Rafael Nadal hits the practice courts.

"In Abu Dhabi I was very sad, but I decided to not play the day after, to try to do the right things. I'm here, today for Thursday. So I hope to be ready for it.''

Nadal had to retire during his Australian Open semi-final last summer when he was able to keep running due to leg injuries.

"My main goal is to stay happy and healthy ... to be competitive and keep doing the things that make me feel alive,'' he said.

The Spanish superstar made the quarter-finals in Brisbane in his only previous tournament here two years ago, and insists he would like to win it.

"Every tournament is special. I am here because I loved it in 2017, I missed it last year,'' Nadal said.

"The tournament is very familiar and has a great atmosphere. I like playing in front of this great crowd.''

Nadal said his ambition in tennis was to do "what makes me feel alive'' rather than pursue the No.1 ranking, which he lost to Novak Djokovic in October when he was unable to play more than nine tournaments, finishing only seven.

"I'd prefer to be No.1 than No.2,'' he said.

"It's not my goal (to be No.1). Of course if I play like I play last year (winning five tournaments of nine), then I have a chance. That's obvious.

"My main goal is to stay happy and healthy ... to be competitive and keep doing the things that make me feel alive.

"I want to fight for the things that motivate me. I want to stay healthy and play as long as possible.''

News Corp Australia


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