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Ten-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal has revealed he will take a few weeks off after the upcoming Australian Open, with the Spaniard still struggling to shake off his shoulder problem. The injury ruined Nadal’s chances at the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in November but has recovered enough to participate in the year’s opening Grand Slam.

The 25-year old won’t be the favourite in the tennis betting offers when the tournament in Melbourne gets underway; that label will undoubtedly be given to world number one Novak Djokovic. It remains to be seen just how fit Nadal is but the Australian Open hasn’t been one of his happier hunting grounds in recent years – only reaching the quarter-final stage in his last two visits. That said, though, the world number two showed in 2009 that he knows what it takes to win this tournament and can’t ever be ruled out completely.

As well as the Australian Open, Nadal will be hoping to defend his World Tennis Championship title in Abu Dhabi as well as the Qatar Open in Doha - a tournament he has won the past two years. February will then be used for the Spaniard to get himself 100% fit so as to mount a genuine challenge on Djokovic’s hold on the number-one spot in the rankings.

2011 was definitely Djokovic’s year and Nadal will be desperately trying to ensure 2012 is when he returns to the top of the sport. He’s already seemingly seen off Roger Federer, now Nadal will need to see off the machine that is Novak Djokovic. Victory in Melbourne would certainly get his mission off to a good start, so keep an eye on him in the live in-play betting.
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