Sport Tennis World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in doubt for Australian Open
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World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in doubt for Australian Open

rafael nadal in doubt for Australian Open
Rafael Nadal after losing to Belgium's David Goffin shortly before his season-ending knee injury. Photo: AAP
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World tennis No.1 Rafael Nadal is in doubt for the Australian Open pulling out of lead-up tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney.

Nadal hasn’t played since losing to David Goffin at the World Tour Finals in London in mid-November, when Nadal pulled out with a season-ending knee injury.

The Spaniard was scheduled to return to the court at the season-opening Brisbane International starting on Saturday, but has now had to concede that he’s not yet ready for competitive tennis.

“I am sorry to announce I won’t be coming to Brisbane this year. My intention was to play, but I am still not ready after last year’s long season and the late start of my preparation,” Nadal tweeted on Thursday.

He indicated he now planned to come to Australia early next month before the Australian Open – the year’s opening grand slam event – at Melbourne Park starting on January 15.

Nadal reached the semi-finals in Brisbane early this year before returning to contest his first grand slam final in two-and-a-half years three weeks later at the Australian Open.

But having has also withdrawn from the Fast4 exhibition event in Sydney on January 8 alongside Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov, the 16-times major winner is now in a race against the clock to be fit for Melbourne Park.

“I had a great time there [in Brisbane in 2017] and it was a great start to the month I spent in Australia,” Nadal said.

“I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open.”

Serious concerns over Nadal’s fitness first surfaced last week when he cancelled a planned training block in Majorca with Portuguese player João Sousa.

And Nadal may not be the only high-profile scratching from the Brisbane tournament.

Five-times Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray has delayed his planned Christmas arrival to Australia because of a chronic hip injury.

The hip problem has prevented Murray from playing for the past six months and seen him slip to number 16 in the world.