Nadal bullish about Australian Open despite setback

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Doha, Jan 8 (IANS) Rusty World No.3 tennis player Rafael Nadal has denied reports that injuries might force him to sit out this month’s Australian Open.

Nadal suffered a shock first-round loss Wednesday to 34-year-old German qualifier Michael Berrer.

Nadal missed the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour Finals in November last year due to a surgery to remove his appendix and was plagued by several injuries in his back and wrist last season.

His first-round loss at the Qatar Open was particularly frustrating as it left him desperately short of match practice heading into the opening slam of the year.

“Yesterday it wasn’t meant to be, now doubles with @picomonaco in Doha and on Sunday I’ll travel to Melbourne to prepare the #ausopen,” Nadal said on Twitter Thursday.

But the 28-year-old admitted that preparations for the tournament, which he won in 2009, was far from ideal after the bruising 6-1, 3-6, 4-6 loss to Berrer.

“Little things didn’t quite work out for me today. This is the third comeback of my career after injury, so we will see how it goes in a couple of months,” the Spaniard said Wednesday.

“I also want to play in the Australian Open, which is a tournament I like a lot. I don’t know if that will be the case either, but I am going to work for it. If not I will be playing at Rio and Buenos Aires.”

A spokesman of the Nadal camp said Thursday that he would definitely play in Melbourne but was unlikely to play in a warm-up tournament in Sydney a week before the slam which begins Jan 19.

“I haven’t spoken to him about Sydney but I would doubt he would play an event the week before a slam. Regarding Melbourne, there is no doubt that he will play,” the spokesman said.

“If you read what he says and put it in Spanish, what he says is that he wants to play well at the Australian Open, but if that is not the case (that he plays but not well) that then you have the other tournaments in the year.”

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