Nadal heads straight to Melbourne
Rafael Nadal has suffered a major pre-Australian Open blow after being forced to withdraw from the upcoming Brisbane International.
The world number one suffered a knee problem during the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London and has reportedly been struggling to undertake a full training programme in recent weeks.
As a result the world number one says he is not ready to take to the court in Brisbane and will instead head straight to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of 2018.
Nadal tweeted: "I am sorry to announce I won't be coming to Brisbane this year. My intention was to play, but I am still not ready after last year's long season and the late start of my preparation."
Meanwhile, Roger Federer has played down talk of him being able to repeat his amazing comeback from injury almost exactly a year ago, with 2017 seeing him win both the Australian Open and a record eighth Wimbledon title.
With the Swiss preparing to feature in the Hopman Cup in Perth, he told reporters: "I try to remind myself just don't think it's normal and realistic to aim for the same things I did in 2017.
"I've got to try and keep it cool. Try my best and see what happens, but the preparation has been good so far. We'll see how things go."
Federer defeated Nadal in a classic five-set final in Melbourne in January to claim his fifth Australian Open title.
He is available at 7/4 to make it six early next year, with Nadal priced at 9/2 and the fit-again Novak Djokovic 5/1.
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