Rafael Nadal says the inaugural ATP Cup is a lot more than just an Australian Open warm-up as he prepares to lead Spain once again.
Nadal was the star man as Spain won the first edition of the newly revamped Davis Cup in November, and they are hoping to make it a memorable double in Australia.
One way the ATP are trying to attract names such as Nadal is schedule it as preparation for the first Grand Slam of the season.
Nadal, though, says that it is much more than that – to the Spanish team at least.
“We are not taking this competition like preparation for another one, even if the Australian Open is around the corner,” the world number one told reporters in Australia.
“It’s a tournament that we want to compete well in, and then we’ll have a week before the Australian Open for me personally to practice and for some of the others to play in Auckland or Adelaide.
“So we are very focused on trying to be ready for this competition. We are a team that gives the maximum.
“But there are other teams that are also prepared for that.”
World number two Novak Djokovic, though, has taken a different view, explaining just how unmissable an opportunity the ATP Cup is for his Melbourne plans.
“I have been playing mostly in Qatar. I think [starting the year in Brisbane] can help [my Australian Open chances]. I am here earlier than most years. I get acclimatised.
“I love being here – it feeds me with positive energy. I am still getting acclimatised. Back in Europe where I reside it is not as warm, it takes a bit of time, that is why I came here earlier.”
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