Rafael Nadal: 'I wouldn't be here if I wasn't feeling good'

Rafael Nadal: 'I wouldn't be here if I wasn't feeling good'

"I just have to pace myself all the way up to the tournament in Melbourne, and I'll be ready", he said after his Hopman Cup final victory at Perth.

"And he just lost that, maybe this time out, it's going to help him find his way back and get that mojo back, and like Federer maybe [he] needed some time off".

Mark Philippoussis has backed Roger Federer to successfully defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne, with Rafael Nadal the only can who can challenge him. It was insane. "It's great to be the defending champion. For me it was not ideal to not be in Brisbane, I would have loved to be there but I had to make a different schedule this year", said the world number one, who is starting a new era without coach, mentor and uncle Toni Nadal in his corner. "Luckily for me I'm here and so I'm hoping in the next four, five days everything will go well and I'll be ready for the Open". "I don't think it really matters right now - the big one is Aus Open and my main focus is that".

Nadal, who lost to Federer in five sets in a vintage Australian final a year ago, has opted to join Djokovic at the Kooyong Classic exhibition event for some match practice in the week before the Open.

"This was a good test for me after some good training, that's the most important thing".

The future, it's often said, has been slow to arrive in men's tennis, but Zverev has leap-frogged a string of young talents to be first in line for "Generation Next".As 22-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios battles hip problems and tantrums, Zverev has stormed into the top 10 on a wave of impressive self-belief and will be ranked fourth at Melbourne Park.

Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic is another with a chequered preparation after wrist surgery past year, while American world number eight Jack Sock hurt his hip while playing in the Hopman Cup.

"Federer's very special, what he did was incredible having six months off, coming back and winning his first event which happened to be a grand slam, the Australian Open".

If there is to be a victor outside the top guns in Melbourne, those who look most likely are Bulgarian Dimitrov, third in the rankings behind Nadal and Federer, Germany's Zverev and tempestuous Australian Nick Kyrgios. "But with him, it's just been mental over the past year", he said.

Dimitrov, once nicknamed "Baby Fed" for his playing style, enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017, winning four titles, including his first Masters crown in Cincinnati.

While pleased at his progress, Djokovic, who has dropped to 14 in the world, admitted he still had work to do ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the year.

But he has affirmed that he is fit and will be ready for next week's Australian Open.

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