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Enthusiastic Nadal Ready For Aussie Open Return

Melbourne, Australia

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal faces Australian Bernard Tomic in his return to Melbourne Park.

It has been a tumultuous 24 months for Rafael Nadal since the World No. 1 last departed Rod Laver Arena after the 2012 Australian Open final, a riveting five-set affair against Novak Djokovic

Nadal's resurgent record-breaking comeback from a knee ailment and stomach virus, which kept him on the sidelines during last year's tournament, is a source of pride for the Spaniard, but it is that very two-year journey back to Melbourne Park that makes him hungry for more. The 2009 champion is eager to return to “a tournament I really love so much.” 

“I think the crowd here is great,” said Nadal. “The Australian crowd is one of the best. I really have fun all the time when I was able to play on this fabulous court, Rod Laver Arena. I think they understand tennis. They respect always the opponent. I am not worried about that. I’m sure the crowd will be great. It is a tournament I really love so much. I like a lot the people here in Australia. The tournament is easy one for the players.”

Nadal faces an immediate test against young Aussie hopeful Bernard Tomic in the first round, and could face two more home favourites in Thanasi Kokkinakis and an in-form Brisbane champion Lleyton Hewitt before the quarter-finals. The Mallorca native acknowledges it won’t be easy to begin a major on his opponent’s home soil.

“It is not the best round I know to start a Grand Slam, playing against a player who is local and who is young, who played great in the past here and is playing well,” Nadal said, analysing Tomic. “He’s in the final of Sydney. It is a tough start. I played against him here in Australia and I played against Lleyton here few times.

“He is a big talent. He has a good serve. He’s able to play with very good control from the baseline. He has a very good talent on where you going to hit the ball. He’s a good player to start the tournament.”

Having emerged victorious at his season-opener last week in Doha, Nadal enters the year’s first major fresh off his 61st ATP World Tour title, but he remains grounded when considering his Australian Open prospects.

“Important thing is try to be ready for the action from the beginning and be fresh mentally - something that I hope I am. I’m going to try to find the feelings, the positive feelings. If that happens, I hope to be competitive…I just need to practise with the great tactics every day, try to do the right things in every moment to arrive in the first round with the competitive (edge). That’s the only way.”

Nadal opens his fortnight Down Under on Tuesday against Tomic.

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