Sport Tennis Tennis: Nadal vows he’ll be fit for Australian Open
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Tennis: Nadal vows he’ll be fit for Australian Open

Rafael Nadal is a huge challenge for the local lad. Photo: Getty
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Rafael Nadal says he’ll be fit for the Australian Open despite the world No.2 withdrawing from the season-opening Brisbane International for the second straight year.

Yet the 17-time grand slam winner insisted he would be 100 per cent fit for the Australian Open.

Nadal, 32, admitted he risked a month on the sidelines if he took the court at Queensland Tennis Centre with a thigh strain he picked up as he tried to return from an injury-plagued 2018.

But Nadal said he would remain in Brisbane until the weekend to prepare for this month’s opening grand slam, insisting he could prove his fitness in five days in a bid to claim a second Australian Open title.

“I’m going to keep practising here. I will not stop practising. You can watch me practise every day here until Saturday,” Nadal said.

I will probably be 100 per cent in five days. And then I will have plenty of time to prepare for Melbourne.

“I really believe that I will be 100 per cent ready for Melbourne.

“For me it’s a big goal to be ready for there (Australian Open) and I’m going to fight for it (title win).”

It marked the second straight year Nadal failed to take the court in Brisbane after withdrawing from the 2018 tournament with an ongoing knee complaint.

But it appears Nadal has bigger fitness problems ahead of the 2019 Australian Open.

He was limited to nine tournaments last year due to a string of ailments.

Nadal’s scheduled Thursday Brisbane opener was set to be his first competitive clash since pulling out of the US Open semi-finals with his lingering knee injury in September.

His 2019 preparation was also cut short by November ankle surgery.

Then Nadal suffered the thigh strain in his comeback match at last week’s exhibition tournament, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi – a loss to world No.6 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.

Nadal apologised to Brisbane fans for again denying them a chance to see him in action but believed he was feeling the most pain from his tough decision to withdraw.

“That (thigh injury) is an accident, a product of being out of the competition for a while – I have to accept that,” he said.

“This is the second year that they (Brisbane fans) don’t have the chance to watch me play here.

“But no doubt that the person that is more affected and who suffers more in this situation is me. But this is the safest decision possible.”

-AAP