Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley is expecting ace tennis player Rafael Nadal to be fit for next year's first Grand Slam, and believes the Spaniard will arrive as a contender.
The world No.4 last week spoke of his return from a six-month break with knee soreness, but discounted his chances of winning the Open.
There is still significant conjecture whether he will be ready at all by January, but Tiley is confident after recently speaking with the 2009 Australian Open champion.
Nadal has not played since Wimbledon, but Tiley said the Spaniard has been practising regularly and would not enter a tournament half-fit.
"We expect him to play and he is expecting to play himself. I know a couple of weeks ago I sent him four cases of balls. I know he's been practicing," News.com.au quoted Tiley, as saying.
"I have been speaking to him and his team. His first planned event is back right after Christmas (a lucrative Abu Dhabi exhibition on December 27), so a lot hinges on where he is at then," he added.
"But we have a full expectation he will be ready to play. I think Rafa doesn't walk into anything unprepared. I think he's been playing for a while," he said.
Nadal's presence at a grand slam event for the first time since Wimbledon would round out the field as the strongest seen at Melbourne Park. (ANI)