Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Rafael Nadal confident playing Mubadala World Tennis Championship can put him in good shape for a crack at the Australian Open

The world No 2 saw the second half of his 2018 season blighted by a number of injuries

Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in the history of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship having won the tournament four times. Reem Mohammed / The National
Rafael Nadal is the most successful player in the history of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship having won the tournament four times. Reem Mohammed / The National

Rafael Nadal is confident he can challenge for an 18th grand slam at the Australian Open in January.

The Spaniard has been struck down with a number of niggling injuries since retiring hurt at the US Open in September, his last competitive action of 2018.

Knee problems forced him to retire from his semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in New York, and a comeback before the end of the season was prevented by an abdominal injury.

In the off-season he has also had minor surgery to fix an issue with his right ankle.

But despite his various ailments, the world No 2 said he was feeling upbeat as he prepares for his opening Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) match on Friday at the International Tennis Centre in Abu Dhabi.

"I started two weeks ago, of course doing the things step by step," the 32-year-old Spaniard said of his preparations for Abu Dhabi.

"I think I have time to be ready for Melbourne. I am not 100 per cent right now but it will be good to have some matches before then. But I am confident I will arrive in Melbourne with the right situation."

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Nadal, the most successful player in the history of the MWTC with four titles, said he was simply glad to be returning to action this weekend after being sidelined for three months.

"I am happy to be back," he said. "Happy to start a new season. Of course I am having to take care of the body.

"I am going to have to take it step by step but I am happy to be here and ready for a new season."

Injuries have hampered Nadal's career over the past decade, with concerns with his back, wrist and both knees leading to time away from the court.

Nadal said the experience of past physical maladies meant he was now in a better place to cope with the setbacks.

"The second half of the year was tough in terms of injuries, but that happens and that is part of my tennis career," he said. "Try to stay calm, work the right way and when I'm back I know things are not easy, you always have tough feelings and pains in the body that normally you don't have.

"I don't have to ask myself big things to start with and just look to be positive with every improvement and that way normally you get to the right point."

Nadal added that going through the recovery process requires mental strength.

"It is tough," he admits. "You are tired to have pain and you get tired to be injured.

"But that it is it. Then every day you come back home you put everything on a balance and the balance always is the positive things and they are much heavier then the negative things.

"Then you wake up the next morning with the passion for the game, for the improvement and for the hard work.

"That is the only way I am able to find a way to be back on a level I want to be and hopefully this will be a good comeback again."

Nadal will face either defending champion Kevin Anderson or Hyeon Chung in Friday's semi-final, with that match starting at 5pm.

Updated: December 27, 2018 04:52 PM

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