Rafael Nadal today dropped a broad hint that his bid for a first career title at the Australian Open might not go exactly to plan.
The world number one said that a week after falling ill with a virus in Doha, “I’m feeling better (but) I think not perfect yet”.
That kind of news is not good for the Spaniard’s camp as their man attempts to win a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title, which would set a record of sorts in the modern game.
While a true Grand Slam is considered titles at all four majors within a calendar year, there is an argument being made that four in a row is equally as impressive.
Nadal could be paying the price for taking just a few days off in December after ending the 2010 season and immediately starting preparation for this year.
“After what I had in Doha, when I’m practising, I feel a little bit more tired than usual and am sweating more than ever,” said Nadal.
But Nadal added: “It’s true that I’m better than few days ago. So that’s very positive. I hope it’s not going to be a problem for Monday or Tuesday.”
Nadal refused to speak about his post-season planning, preferring to concentrate on the job at hand.
His first task will be to participate Sunday with Roger Federer and others at the Rally for Relief to benefit victims of Australia’s devastating Queensland floods.
“We’re in 2011, 2010 is past,” said the 24-year-old.
“Everything starts another time. It’s true I didn’t have a break. So hopefully if I have a good result here, I’ll have a few weeks after here.”
Nadal admitted that he is consciously trying to avoid the pressure of his potential trophy achievement.
“Maybe I’m going to have this opportunity (only once) in my career.
“The pressure is like every Grand Slam, you want to play well in the important tournaments. And for me, have the fourth (in a row) or not is something that is not in my mind,” he said.
“What is in my mind is try to play well, try to start the season playing well another time, and we will see what’s going on. It’s very difficult to think about that before we start the tournament.”
After being tipped as the title favourite by Federer, Nadal tried to deflect that particular pressure straight back to the Swiss.
“I feel if I play at my best level, I have a chance to be in the second week, and then we will see what will happen.
“For sure I’m feeling less favourite than him and not more favourite than (Novak) Djokovic, (Andy) Murray, (Robin) Soderling, these kind of players. That’s what I think.”