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Australian Open: Rafael Nadal nearing fitness, Alexander Zverev plays down injury scare

Rafael Nadal said he is nearing fitness and will be ready in time for the Australian Open, which is scheduled to start on January 14.

New Delhi Published on: January 12, 2019 18:25 IST
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Rafael Nadal had to retire early from last year's Australian Open due to injury

Spain's Rafael Nadal said on Saturday he was feeling healthy and approaching full fitness ahead of next week's Australian Open, after his rival, Britain's Andy Murray, announced plans to retire due to injury.

Nadal, who won the Melbourne tournament in 2009 and has been dogged by injury problems for much of his own career, was forced to retire from last year's quarter-final against Marin Cilic.

"If I was not feeling good, I would not be here", the World No.2 said at a press conference in Melbourne, reports Efe news.

Nadal, who pulled out of the Brisbane International due to a thigh strain last week, said he was recovering well from foot surgery, and that while he had struggled for fitness and had had setbacks, he was confident of being able to perform in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, which starts on Monday.

"It's nothing new for me", the 17-time Grand Slam winner said adding: "I just accept the challenges the body and the tennis present."

He was speaking one day after his friend Andy Murray tearfully announced that he feared he would be forced to retire this season due to his struggles with injury.

Nadal paid tribute to the Scot, calling him a "great competitor" who had been part of some of the greatest tennis rivalries of all time.

On the other hand, German fourth seed Alexander Zverev said on Saturday that he was relaxed and fit to play in the Australian Open despite a dramatic fall during training.

In the pre-event press conference, Zverev said he had not twisted his ankle in the fall on Friday and only had a little inflammation between two bones, reports Efe news.

"I am fine, I am going to play with a tape. It's nothing that can get worse. I am actually quite relaxed about it," said Zverev, who faces Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene in the first round.

The youngster, who lost to South Korea's Hyeon Chung last year, acknowledged that he had never been past the third round in the tournament and said he was not putting too much pressure on himself.

"I just want to enjoy being here. I just want to enjoy playing as much as I can," said Zverev, who could meet Frenchman Gilles Simon in the third round.

The 21-year-old said he had learned a lot from the ATP Tour Finals in London, where he emerged as a surprise winner.

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