Rafael Nadal feels he's still a contender to win the Australian Open

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WATCH—Nadal withdraws from Brisbane International: 


Rafael Nadal says he's still a contender for the Australian Open despite playing no ATP events going into the season's first major.

Having withdrawn from Brisbane with a thigh strain, Nadal played an exhibition match against Nick Kyrgios at Sydney this week and now plans to go to Melbourne to train.
"I'm happy to be back on court and then happy that I'm healthy again," he told press at Sydney. "I think it was a good start for me, a good comeback to the action in front of a fantastic crowd."

The No. 2 also played an exhibition match at Abu Dhabi before the beginning of the season, his first appearance on court since retiring with an injury at the US Open. The Spaniard then had ankle surgery during the offseason.

Though he acknowledges he could use "a little bit more rhythm" going into the Australian Open, Nadal plans to get it with a lot of practice match play this week and insists he is still aiming for the title. 

"Of course it would be better if I had the chance to play a full tournament in Abu Dhabi and a full tournament in Brisbane, but the big importance is I am feeling good with the ball," he said. "But I have one week and I am healthy now and I can practice now in Melbourne for one full week and the good thing is I am going to have the chance to play matches."

A year ago, he also withdrew from Brisbane and reached the Australian Open quarterfinals before retiring with injury.

Nadal will be the second seed at the Australian Open.


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