Rafael Nadal BEATEN by Tomas Berdych in final Australian Open preparation | Tennis | Sport


Nadal yesterday faced Richard Gasquet in the Kooyong Classic, losing 6-4, 7-5 in blustery conditions at the exhibition tournament.

But the Spaniard insisted he would not have been playing at all if he was worried about the knee injury that has kept him out of action since November.

And today he appeared three times on the Margaret Court Arena in the unique format, beating France’s Lucas Rouille 10-1 before being pushed all the way by Lleyton Hewitt in a close 13-11 victory.

However, he could not handle Berdych in the final as the Czech player triumphed 10-5 to claim the winner-takes-all prize of $250,000 (£184,500).

Nadal will start the Australian Open, who is one of the few top players not to arrive in Melbourne under an injury cloud.

But having got his first match practice in this week, Nadal appears confident of playing in the tournament that starts on January 15.

“If I’m not feeling good, probably I will not be here,” Nadal said yesterday.

“So that’s the good news.”

He added, explaining his absence from the Brisbane International last week: “It was a long year last year, so I had to start the preparation a little bit later than usual.

“But here I arrive in plenty of time and it’s a good day to start feeling again, [the feeling] of playing a match.

“It’s still a good test for me and a good practice and that’s the most important thing.

“My idea is just to keep practicing hard the next couple of days to be ready for the beginning of the .”

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