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Rafael Nadal ‘working hard’ to be ready for Australian Open

Rafael Nadal, Australian Open ,exhibition match, Mark Philippoussis , Fernando Verdasco

MELBOURNE (AP) : Rafael Nadal says he’s “working as hard as I can” to be ready for Monday’s start to the Australian Open following a right wrist injury and appendix surgery which sidelined him for most of the last six months of 2014.

Nadal went through a strenuous workout at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, followed by a two-hour exhibition match against Mark Philippoussis and Fernando Verdasco as part of a charity night to open the renovated Margaret Court Arena, the Australian Open’s third court with a retractable roof.

On Thursday, Nadal said he recovered well from the tough day of workouts, but added it would be difficult to quickly reach the level of fitness to win the title this year.

“I’m back, and I’m healthy, but it’s hard to come back after such injures,” Nadal said. “I will hope for first round, second round, and take the wins as they come.”

Nadal was knocked out in the first round in a tournament at Doha two weeks ago by a qualifier, but then teamed with good friend, Juan Monaco of Argentina, to win the doubles final, giving him some valuable court time.

“It was an important week because I came back to the tour after a long time not being competitive,” Nadal said. “I’m going to work hard to be ready for Australia.”

The third-seeded Nadal will find out on Friday who will be play in the first round when the tournament draw is held.

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