Rafael Nadal

The Spanish Rafael Nadal serves the ball to South Africa's Kevin Anderson in the first semifinal match of the 2018 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on December 28, 2018. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

Rafael Nadal revealed Saturday that he was again in top form and has just launched a new service at the Australian Open.

The world number two is far from Melbourne Park a year ago, forced to retire after his quarter-final with Marin Cilic.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion has missed most of the next three months and has shortened his season to get surgery on a serious foot injury.

He retired from a warm-up in Brisbane with a slight tension in his thigh but said Saturday that his problems were behind him.

"I feel good, if I do not feel well I will not be here," Nadal told the press two days before the start of the first Grand Slam of the year.

"I have good feelings regarding surgery. After surgery, after months without competition, with difficulties in exercising, there are always problems when you return.

"But it's not new to me," added Nadal, who admits he must handle the workload of his screaming 32-year-old body, beaten by years of his fully active style.

To cope better, he has reshaped his service to help extend his career.

"There are always things to improve," said the Spanish, who will face Australian James Duckworth in the first round.

"Service has always been one thing I've tried to improve, and I think I've done it.

"I'm excited about the motivation to do something new. If I am able to succeed this, I hope that it will give me the opportunity to help me in my game in the long run.

"I did not compete with this new service, let's see how it works. I am convinced that it will work well. "

His 2018 season ended with a new retirement injury in the US Open semifinal, but Nadal still managed to win five tournaments in a truncated season, including an eleventh record for the French Open, which leaves him three major tournaments behind Roger Federer's all-time record. of 20 majors.

Nadal said it was sad to hear another legendary tennis player, Andy Murray, quit tennis this year, likely as early as next week, due to chronic hip pain.

Nadal said that he could understand it, having had his own succession of injury problems over the years, but he had always strived to return to court if possible.

"My only goal is to have always continued," he said. "This is the only way to maintain confidence and hope for a strong return to health.

"But I know tennis is not eternal. I want to do it as long as I can and give myself the best opportunities to fight for things that really fascinates me and to keep doing things that I really like to do.

"When the day comes, I will not be able to do it, it will be the day we go to do something else."

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