Rafael Nadal injury update: World No. 2 (knee) expects to be fit for Australian Open

Rafael Nadal is confident he will be ready for the Australian Open after a knee injury brought an early end to his 2018 schedule.

Nadal was on course to finish the year as world No. 1 after winning 45 matches on the ATP Tour, the Spaniard claiming five titles in the process — including an 11th French Open crown.

He also performed well in the other three Grand Slams, reaching the semis at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.

Knee problems have dogged him in recent years and they returned after his exit to Juan Martin del Potro at Flushing Meadows, ruling the Spaniard out of the remainder of the season.

That allowed Novak Djokovic to claim the world No. 1 spot, but Nadal is on the road to recovery and hopes to be ready when 2019’s first major event begins on Jan. 14.

The fan favorite @rafaelnadal adds much excitement to the kids day festivities, starting with the #MCC clinic! Buy your tickets to watch #Rafa in action tomorrow here – https://t.co/AaDLqtLe3b #MWTC #Tennis #AbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/R3NIMEsqXn

When asked about his recovery, he told a media conference: “Good, going step by step.

“I am not making steps back, just steps forward all the time, taking care of my body after a while without having a chance to be on court and trying to do things slowly.

“It’s important for me to protect the body and to avoid tough circumstances.

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“I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 percent.”

Nadal will make his first appearance since his U.S. Open exit when he takes on Kevin Anderson at the World Tennis Championships exhibition event Friday in Abu Dhabi.

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