Nadal wants to start afresh at 2018 Australian Open

Johanna Konta

Nadal wants to start afresh at 2018 Australian Open

He returns to the Australian Open, where he lost a thrilling five-set final to long-time rival Roger Federer in 2017, after overcoming his chronic knee problems just in time and hoping to continue last year's progress under new coach Carlos Moya.

The Serb, 30, has not played since retiring against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in July.

They're all in the same half of the draw as defending champion Roger Federer, who past year returned from an extended injury time out to beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final and end a Grand Slam drought dating back to 2012.

That is giving Djokovic some hope.

"In terms of professional things, I spoke to him few days ago, speaking about how the life going, how the tennis going", he said of Toni.

But the year was largely deflating, as he was bundled out early from the grand slams while battling hip problems through a lot of them. "Who would predict that after his six months of absence, so. everything is possible really".

Novak Djokovic knows he will be stepping into the unknown at the Australian Open but thinks he can go far on his grand-slam comeback if he avoids another injury setback.

The Serbian said: "It is not 100 per cent healed".

"So hopefully I can improve that".

Now it's a less dramatic, more compact swing and he was happy with how it worked in an exhibition win over Thiem at the Kooyong Classic exhibition event earlier in the week.

"Although it's not entirely different... even those small changes have made a lot of difference", he said.

Novak Djokovic

"I feel that I had a good week-and-a-half of practices. I've missed it", he said Saturday at Melbourne Park. "They spent a lot of hours analyzing my serve". Find us on Facebook too!

Injuries to leading players have been a focus of attention in Australia. Nadal would also avoid both Federer and Djokovic until the final.

In recent months, meanwhile, ATP Finals victor Grigor Dimitrov and Zverev have moved up to No. 3 and No. 4 in the rankings, respectively, and are growing in confidence that they're on the cusp of Grand Slam breakthroughs.

The first test will come on Tuesday, against 14th seed of the 2018 Australian Open, American Donald Young, in what is likely to be an extremely hard fought contest.

"Every day is getting better".

He can take some credit for the vast improvement in Nadal's second serve, which helped the Spaniard win a 10th Roland Garros title without dropping a set and saw him blow away Kevin Anderson to lift the final major of the year in NY.

"Is the first time I am here without playing official match - is new situation for me", Nadal said.

"I thought my game wasn't going to be good enough for that day and it was". "I'm really looking forward to trying out my new serve".

Djokovic said he had been convinced by doctors that he would not be doing the injury any more damage by playing in Melbourne.

"So let's see. There's not much more I can do".

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