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Rafael Nadal confident on eve of Australian Open as he gets back to full fitness

By Tom Allnutt

Rafael Nadal insists he would be back in Spain fishing and playing golf if he did not believe he could win another Grand Slam.

Nadal begins his bid for a 15th major triumph at the Australian Open tomorrow, looking to re-establish himself among the elite after another year blighted by injury.

The 30-year-old was forced to withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon last summer due to a problem in his left wrist, and results upon his return proved disappointing.

A fourth round exit to Lucas Pouille at the US Open was later followed by a first round loss to Viktor Troicki in Shanghai, prompting Nadal to end his season in October to regain full fitness.

Since then, there has been room for encouragement. Nadal appointed fellow Spaniard and former world number one, Carlos Moya, to his coaching team in December and then played well in Brisbane earlier this month, before losing to Milos Raonic in three tight sets.

The challenge now is to carry his momentum to Melbourne.

"If I don't see myself, and if I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean 'competitive', it is fighting for the things that I fight for during the last 10 years, I will be probably be playing golf or fishing at home," Nadal said.

Nadal plays Germany's Florian Mayer in the first round on Tuesday when much attention will be on the Spaniard's physical condition and, in particular, his troublesome wrist.

Asked whether he is injured or pain-free, Nadal said: "I am not injured, no. But pain-free is a long time ago."

The 2009 Australian Open champion believes he is ready to go the distance again.

"You cannot say I am ready for it or I am not ready for it. Let's see," Nadal added.

"I feel myself ready for the competition, yes. Then if that happens during the next couple of days and I am able to compete well from the beginning, you never know what can happen.

"I feel myself it can happen. That's the real thing."

Belfast Telegraph


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