The lure of a much-needed rest is driving a tired Rafael Nadal ahead of his debut Brisbane International appearance on Tuesday.
Nadal, who has replaced Roger Federer as the drawcard attraction for this year’s tournament, is due to take on Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov barely 24 hours after touching down in Brisbane early on Monday.
The Spaniard is coming off an impressive victory at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Eve.
It marked his return to action after a wrist injury in October brought an early end to last season.
While the turnaround has been tough if he beats world No.67 Dolgopolov, a former Brisbane finalist, Nadal will get a day off – almost a prize in itself after a trip halfway around the world.
“I played well in Abu Dhabi, no? It’s just a couple of matches, but I played three good matches, and that’s important for me,” the world No.6 said.
“Because I played that well there, the timing here to adapt myself to the tournament is not very long – I play tomorrow, I have this afternoon and I cannot practise a lot after long travel.
“But I’m going to do my best.
“If I am able to go through tomorrow then I have one day off, that helps. I really hope the good matches that I played in Abu Dhabi helps me for here.”
Nadal said he was excited to check out somewhere “different” on the road to the Australian Open – he usually sticks to lead-up tournaments in the Middle East, but has stepped into the breach after Federer’s decision to play in the Hopman Cup.
“Brisbane is something that probably will help for me to adapt quicker to the Australian conditions that are always a bit tougher in terms of weather,” he said.
“A lot of people told me great things about this event. Every year is different, all the players are changing schedules and being here in Brisbane is good news for me.
“I don’t know if that’s going to help me better or not – I can tell you after Melbourne, I cannot predict the future.”
Nadal, 30, hasn’t won a grand slam since the 2014 French Open, but believes he can be a regular contender again provided he stays fit.
“The only thing I can say is if I am healthy, I believe that I can do it. If not, I will be at home fishing,” he said.