Tennis

Nadal's Grand Slam hope no fishing expedition

New year, new beginning.

Spanish star Rafael Nadal insisted that if he was fully fit, he could add to his tally of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.

"I cannot predict the future, (but) I can say that if I am healthy, I believe that I can do it," said Nadal (right) on his arrival in Brisbane yesterday to play in the Brisbane International. "If not, I will be at home fishing."

The 30-year-old hopes a dramatic change to his longstanding schedule will lead to success at the Australian Open later this month.

After opening his season in Doha for seven of the past eight years, Nadal has this year opted to begin his Melbourne campaign at the Brisbane International.

It is the first time since Sydney in 2009 that Nadal is playing an Australian ATP tournament in the lead-up to the year's first Grand Slam.

He said he decided to change his schedule to give himself the best chance of acclimatising to the Australian summer.

"Doha has worked well for me in the past, but Brisbane will help me adapt and get used to Australian conditions, which are a little bit tougher because of the weather," said Nadal, who will take on Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round today.

"Every year is different. All the players are changing schedules. Being here in Brisbane is good news for me.

"I like Australia. Last year, I decided already to come here before. I don't know if that's going to help me better or not - I'll tell you after Melbourne."

Meanwhile, David Ferrer sent local favourite Bernard Tomic packing with an easy 6-3, 7-5 win in the opening round of the Brisbane International yesterday.

The eighth-seeded Spaniard capitalised on Tomic's poor serve, breaking the flat-looking Australian three times to clinch the first set at the Pat Rafter Arena. They traded service holds through the second set until the final game, when Tomic's eighth double-fault sealed Ferrer's comprehensive win.

"All tennis players have pressure but, at this moment of my career, I need to enjoy these types of matches on Centre Court," Ferrer said.

"I am 34 years old, 35 next month, so I hope I will play a little bit longer," added the Spaniard who faces another Australian, wildcard Jordan Thompson, in the second round.

In the women's event, fourth seed Garbine Muguruza staved off Samantha Stosur's spirited comeback, prevailing 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5 in a three-hour battle that ended in disappointment for the partisan crowd.

Sixth seed Elina Svitolina eased into the second round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Olympic champion Monica Puig. - WIRE SERVICES

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