The Spaniard will be determined to go one better in Australia this year, but there are more concerns over his fitness after he pulled out of his scheduled opening two tournaments of 2018 in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane, although he did take part in the Tie Break Tens event and then beat Dominic Thiem in a surprise exhibition match ahead of his first-round clash against 37-year-old Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos. A lot of times not because I played bad, but because I played very good opponents.
Danger lurks at nearly every corner, with former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro, the man who beat Federer for the 2009 U.S. Open title, looming as threats before the quarter-finals. "So I'm really looking forward to trying out my new serve!"
"I lost to Nadal here".
Serena Williams decided not to defend her Australian title, saying that just four months after having her first child that her tennis hadn't yet returned to a level where she felt could win a Grand Slam title. "But I feel good", he said on Saturday.
Yet he is unfazed and raring to go as seeks to go one better than a year ago when he lost an epic Melbourne Park final to Roger Federer.
"We chose to start later because we needed some more practice".
"For me, the Australian Open. if you are not enough motivated, 100 percent motivated to play this tournament, probably you don't love this sport".
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If he wins Australian Open, it will be his 17th grand slam and will also put him in an elite list of few players who have won all the Grand Slams at least twice in their career.
"But everyone starts from zero".
And there's been a changing of the guard in his coaching box, with his long time mentor uncle Toni Nadal leaving his official entourage at the end of past year. I still have this afternoon and tomorrow, the last practice before the competition starts for me.
Djokovic cut last season short due to an elbow injury which forced the former world number one to retire from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych.
Toni is now focusing on Nadal's tennis academy, perhaps getting back to what he enjoys the most - nourishing young talent.
"I'm happy with the way that I am working with (coaches) Carlos (Moya), with Francis (Roig) and the rest of my team".
"Throughout the tournament, I don't know how it's going to behave". If he have something to tell me, he call me and tell me.