Nadal enters courageous new world at Aust Open


The 29-year-old has continued 2018 where he left off with a 21st career title looming at this week's ASB Classic in Auckland and he will return to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since August 2014 when he gears himself up for a first-round test against the hugely-talented American Frances Tiafoe.

With Carlos Moya at the head of his coaching team, Uncle Toni nevertheless attended some of Nadal's pre-season practices in Mallorca, and the pair remains on close, strong terms. "But I feel good", Nadal told the reporters ahead of the tournament.

"It's impossible to be more motivated than last year or any year", said Nadal, who can only face second seed Federer in another final if they progress that far.

The pair split the four grand slam trophies between them past year, with Nadal, at 31, finishing the season as the ATP rankings' oldest world number one.

Since he pulled out of the ATP Tour Finals with knee injury in November, 2017, Nadal has not played a single competitive match.

World number one Rafa Nadal believes he is ready and in decent form ahead of the Australian Open. "So I'm really looking forward to trying out my new serve!"

Djokovic said he had been convinced by doctors that he would not be doing the injury any more damage by playing in Melbourne.

"I needed time to kind of get used to that change, understand whether that's good or not good for me".

"It was an obviously part of my game that I had to address because of my elbow issues", the Serbian said on Saturday.

The six time Australian Open victor enlisted the help of tennis great Andre Agassi and power hitter Andy Roddick, to find a way to help release the "load from the elbow".

"That's my feeling. We chose to play another match.

For me, the Australian Open always, if you are not enough motivated, 100 per cent motivated to play this tournament, probably you don't love this sport", Nadal said.

Not only can he clinch a 17th Grand Slam in Melbourne, but he also has the opportunity to join Roy Emerson and Rod Laver as only the third man in the Open era to win each of the four Grand Slams twice. But, still, "everyone starts from zero".

Simona Halep, who was upset in the first round a year ago by American Shelby Rogers, and Caroline Wozniacki, who lost in the third round in 2017, were seeded one and two.

Toni is now focusing on Nadal's tennis academy, perhaps getting back to what he enjoys the most - nourishing young talent. If he have something to tell me, he call me and tell me.