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'If I am healthy, I am competitive' - Rafael Nadal aims to stop Novak Djokovic at French Open

Rafael Nadal believes he has the offensive game to stop his great rival completing another 'Djoker Slam' at the French Open; he just needs to work on his defence.

Nadal was swatted aside by Novak Djokovic in the most one-sided Australian Open finals in 16 years, losing 6-3 6-2 6-3 in a tick over two hours.

Despite the magnitude of the loss, there's no great alarm in Nadal's corner.

The Spaniard, who has been recovering from injuries since last September's US Open, didn't drop a set on his road to final at Melbourne

Park and looked in terrific nick heading into the showpiece match.

But the world No.2 said taking the step up to play the world No.1 at the peak of his powers was simply too much.

"He played - I think - fantastic," he said.

"Is true that probably physically I was not able (to compete).

"Five months without competing, having that big challenge in front of me, I needed something else.

"I don't have it yet. That's my feeling, to compete at this super high level."

Nadal had ankle surgery following the US Open and withdrew from the Brisbane International at the start of the month citing a thigh issue.

The 32-year-old said that restricted his practice time to one facet of the game, which explained his routing of lowly ranked players but his inability to keep up with Djokovic.

"I worked a lot on the offensive game, but not that much on the defensive game," he said.

"To play against a player like him, playing the way he played tonight, I needed that defensive game to finally have the chance to be offensive.
"It's true that maybe was difficult to beat him even if I was at my 100 per cent. But probably will be a little bit more fight."

If Djokovic wins the French Open in May, he will hold all four major titles at the same time.

Nadal said he needed matches to ramp up to defend his French Open crown, but would first take four weeks off before resuming at the Acapulco Open in Mexico.

"I need matches, but I can't go crazy to play matches. I have my age," he said.

"My first priority at all - more than winning titles or not - is be happy. To be happy I need to be healthy.

"If I am healthy, I am competitive, I am happy, I have the chance to win tournaments."

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in their semifinal at the Australian Open. Source: Associated Press


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