Melbourne: World No.4 Rafael Nadal has given his word he will be ready to play at the Australian Open in January, tournament director Craig Tiley said Tuesday. The 11-time Grand Slam champion hasn't appeared on court since a shock defeat to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon in June.
He has spent the five intervening months rehabilitating a chronic knee injury, and recently vowed to return at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi starting Dec 27. "We are fortunate that we start in January," Tiley said. "Players have taken some time off so that they are not injured, like Rafa Nadal, whom I spoke to last week and he is going to be ready to play."
The 26-year-old Spaniard won the Australian Open in 2009 but lost last year's final at Melbourne Park to world No.1 Novak Djokovic, in one of the most thrilling five-setters of 2012.