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Nadal unfazed by rankings race on return

Rafael Nadal is making his first appearance since losing the number one ranking to Roger Federer © AFP / STR

ACAPULCO, Mexico, Feb 27Rafael Nadal says he will not be thinking about reclaiming his world number one ranking when he makes his return from injury at the Mexico Open in Acapulco on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Spanish star will play his first match since limping out of the quarter-finals at the Australian Open when he faces Feliciano Lopez.

Following his exit in Melbourne last month, Nadal has ceded his number one ranking to Roger Federer, who became the oldest player to claim top spot on February 19.

While a victory this week would not be good enough to overhaul Federer, it would leave Nadal primed to replace the Swiss star at Indian Wells or Miami next month.

Nadal however insists he is not motivated by a desire to reclaim the position from his long-time rival.

“I play this tournament because I like it and, not because I’m trying to be number one in the world,” Nadal said.

“At this point in my career, I’m looking to be happy, and play in the proper weeks, whether No. 1 or No. 5 in the rankings.”

Top seed Nadal will start as the favourite to win in Mexico this week, where he also won in 2005 and 2013.

Nadal meanwhile said he has fully recovered from the right leg injury that scuppered his Australian Open campaign.

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“I took a couple of weeks of rest and worked hard on rehabilitation,” he said. “Last week I started practising hard again. I feel ready. Injuries are part of my career. It’s not the first time.

“Of course it’s tough, especially at this point when you feel ready to compete well.

“For me it was a good chance to be fighting for an important title in Australia. But it happened and I can’t complain.”

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