He was last year’s world No.2 for a long stretch before suffering a knee injury and now Rafael Nadal’s long awaited comeback will have to wait a little while longer.
The Spaniard hasn’t been seen on the court since suffering a shock loss to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June and his comeback game at a tournament in Abu Dhabi was cancelled after a stomach virus shut the star down.
Though not the best news for Nadal, who is feeling much better after recovering from a serious case of knee tendinitis which kept him out of the Olympics and the US Open, it could be big news for Australian fans.
Nadal has already confirmed his spot in the Australian Open beginning January 15th, but may not be ready for a lead-up spot in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on January 1st. In such an event, Nadal would likely head Down Under to the AAMI Classic at Kooyong- a perfect tournament ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam featuring quality talent including former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro and former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt.
The 11-time Grand Slam champ insists that he hasn’t forgotten how to play, but admitted he won’t be at his best until around March.
Meanwhile, top Australian women’s player Sam Stosur told reporters ahead of next week’s Brisbane International that despite her world No.3 ranking, Serena Williams is the best player in the world.
The 31-year-old will have to take home the Aussie Open to reclaim the No.1 ranking, but Stosur (world no.9) is adamant that Williams is still ahead of challengers Azarenka and Sharapova.
"I think it's very hard going against (Serena) as No.1 at the moment," Stosur said.
"Obviously she is not No.1 on paper, but I think having won two Grand Slams, the Olympics and the end of year Championships I think that pretty much qualifies you as being in that spot.
"The rankings work how they work, but if you don't play all the time that's why it's hard to get there."
Williams has lost just one match since her shocking first-round exit at the French Open in May.
Crave has Australian sport covered.
Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.