BRISBANE, Australia, Jan 2 – Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal hopes a dramatic change to his longstanding schedule will lead to success in the Australian Open later this month.
After opening his season in Doha for seven of the past eight years, Nadal has this year opted to begin his Melbourne campaign at the Brisbane International.
It will be the first time since Sydney in 2009 that Nadal will have played an Australian ATP tournament in the lead-up to the year’s first Grand Slam.
The 30-year-old said he decided to change his schedule to give himself the best chance of acclimatising to the Australian summer.
“Doha has worked well for me in the past but Brisbane will help me adapt and get used to Australian conditions, which are a little bit tougher because of the weather,” he said on arrival in Brisbane on Monday.
“Every year is different. All the players are changing schedules,” he added.
“Being here in Brisbane is good news for me. I like Australia. Last year I decided already to come here before.
“I don’t know if that’s going to help me better or not — I’ll tell you after Melbourne.”
Nadal arrived in Brisbane after winning the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, proving he has recovered from the wrist injury that plagued him in 2016.
“I played well in Abu Dhabi. I played three good matches and that’s important for me,” he said.
“Last year I was playing great but I got injured in the worst moment possible.
“I’m happy to be back in competition again. Abu Dhabi was a good start. I need to continue that way.”
A relaxed Nadal, who moments earlier had been swamped by fans as he held a koala outside the Queensland Tennis Centre, insisted that if he was fully fit he could add to his tally of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
“I cannot predict the future (but) I can say if I am healthy, I believe that I can do it,” he said.
“If not, I will be at home fishing.”