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Rafael Nadal has been confirmed as the top seed for the Australian Open but the world number one remains cautious over his chances of taking the title in Melbourne.
Nadal missed last year’s edition of the tournament as a result of a serious knee injury, before making a return later in the season and reclaiming the top spot in the rankings.
The Spanish star heads defending champion Novak Djokovic, compatriot David Ferrer, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the men’s seedings
Nadal has previously eased fears over his troublesome knees by stating he feels in good condition ahead of the start of the 2014 season, but he admits the timing of the Australian Open, just days into the new season, makes it a difficult tournament to prepare for.
“It’s difficult because the Australian Open is very early. It would be better to play it a bit later,” said Nadal.
“It can be only the second tournament (of the year) that you are competing in, and it’s one of the most important, so it’s a bit strange.”
Nadal reached the final of the Australian Open in 2012 but was beaten by Djokovic in a Slam-record five-hour, 53-minute final.
The 27-year-old, who has won one title in Melbourne in 2009, has since beaten the Serb in the 2012 French Open final and the 2013 US Open final but lost to Djokovic in the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals.