Doubtful Nadal rules out Australian Open glory
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal has downplayed his chances of winning the Australian Open, saying his back remains a concern and he lacks confidence from having little match practice in the lead-up.
On the comeback trail after injury and illness wiped out the latter half of his 2014 season, the Spaniard had a poor start to his new year, dumped from the first round of the Qatar Open by German journeyman Michael Berrer.
"No, I don't consider myself one of the favorites here," the 28-year-old, seeded third for the tournament, told reporters at Melbourne Park.
"Last year, yes. This year is a different story. (I) would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win today. I don't feel myself ready to win the tournament here today.
"If I am here in a press conference in one week, maybe I will say another thing because I will have the feeling that I will play a few matches, and if I'm able to win that couple of matches, then probably I will have little bit more rhythm, I will have more confidence.
"But in theory, playing four, five matches in seven months, you cannot be a favorite of a tournament that is not clay, it's on hard (courts)."
Nadal made the final last year but was beaten by Stan Wawrinka in four sets, having carried a painful back injury into the match that affected his movement.
He recovered to win a record ninth French Open crown but was blighted by a wrist injury and then appendicitis late in the year. Continued...