Nadal skips Brisbane, commits to Melbourne

BRISBANE • World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has eased fears that he is doubtful for next month's Australian Open despite withdrawing from the Brisbane International with a knee injury.

The Spaniard, who has not played since losing to David Goffin at the World Tour Finals in London, had already pulled out of this weekend's Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

He was then scheduled to start his season in Brisbane at the Dec 31-Jan 7 tournament, but said he would not be participating.

The 31-year-old said on Twitter yesterday: "I am still not ready after last year's long season and the late start of my preparation."

But the 16-time Major champion still plans to play in the year's opening Grand Slam tournament, starting in Melbourne on Jan 15.

"I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th (of January) in Melbourne and start there my preparation," he added.

Ahead of the 2017 season, Nadal also struggled with injury but enjoyed a stellar year, claiming a 10th French Open, a third US Open crown and returning to world No. 1.

His long-time rival Roger Federer also did not know what to expect when he made his comeback in January this year after taking six months off to recover from a knee surgery. He went on to win his fifth Australian Open crown and clinch his eighth at Wimbledon before finishing the year at No.2.

Federer, who begins his new campaign at the combined teams Hopman Cup tournament in Perth tomorrow, said he is trying to ensure that the expectations this year will not get out of control.

"I try to remind myself, just don't think it's normal and realistic to aim for the same things I did this year in 2017," the Swiss said after he arrived in Australia.

He previously used the Kooyong invitational as a warm-up event, but returned to the Hopman Cup last year to team up with compatriot Belinda Bencic to finish second in their group.

"It worked out perfectly this year, (winning) at the Australian Open," Federer said of starting the season in Perth, where he and Bencic will face Japan, Russia and the United States in group play.

"Of course, that's a good omen."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2017, with the headline 'Nadal skips Brisbane, commits to Melbourne'. Print Edition | Subscribe