Nadal enters courageous new world at Aust Open

Johanna Konta

He may not be the top seed (that honour goes to Rafael Nadal) but he has beaten the top seed in their last five meetings dating back all the way to 2015.

And there's been a changing of the guard in his coaching box, with his long time mentor uncle Toni Nadal leaving his official entourage at the end of a year ago.

Nadal nearly claimed a second Australian Open title past year, only to be edged by Roger Federer in a thrilling final.

Federer was seeded No. 2 behind world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has a seemingly simple opener against 51st-ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, but he might be made to sweat after that.

The 16-times Grand Slam champion showed no sign of discomfort in defeating fifth seed Thiem and said he felt "good" and was "more or less" playing well.

In a women's field notably missing 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, there appear to be many chances of a new Australian Open champion this year.

"You can't really name one thing or one reason why I haven't gone that far yet. I feel myself more or less playing well".

With so few matches under his belt ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam, he asked organisers if they could do him a special favour, and they obliged.

Novak Djokovic
Nadal enters courageous new world at Aust Open

"I think he's incredibly talented".

Despite his achievements in a long career, motivation for Nadal, who needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking, with Federer breathing down his neck, remains undiminished.

"For me, the Australian Open. if you are not enough motivated, 100 percent motivated to play this tournament, probably you don't love this sport". She said it didn't leave her enough time to feel confident of winning a major.

"Everyone starts from zero". Remain this afternoon and tomorrow, the last practice before the competition starts for me.

"I hope to be healthy and competitive, and most important thing, I hope to enjoy tennis one more year".

Entering as the No. 1 seed for the first time at a major and at a tournament where she's had back-to-back first-round exits, two-time French Open finalist Halep opens against teenage wild-card entry Destanee Aiava.

"If I have something to ask, I ask him". If he has something to tell me, he calls me and tells me.

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