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Aussie Grand Slam wide open: Nadal

Defending champion Rafael Nadal says this year's Australian Open is a lottery, with any one of a dozen players capable of winning. The world number two Spaniard, who beat Roger Federer here last year in a gripping five-set final, admitted he was not the favourite this time after his injury layoff.

sports Updated: Jan 17, 2010 22:19 IST

Defending champion Rafael Nadal says this year's Australian Open is a lottery, with any one of a dozen players capable of winning.

The world number two Spaniard, who beat Roger Federer here last year in a gripping five-set final, admitted he was not the favourite this time after his injury layoff.

“We will see what happens, I don't know,” he said. “A lot of players can win right now. I don't want to say everybody, but like 12 players, 13 players have a good chance.”

Federer is one of them, as is Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, with Nikolay Davydenko the form player having beaten the Spaniard in the Qatar Open final this month.

Nadal comes into the opening Grand Slam of the season without a title in eight months, with the last one coming on the Barcelona clay in April.

With injuries hampering the 23-year-old, he faces a telling time at the tournament, which should provide a guide to his current standing in tennis.

Doting dad Roger Federer is fired up for his first Australian Open as a father, saying having children has given him extra hunger to win Grand Slams.

The Swiss superstar, who has missed playing in only one of the last 18 Grand Slam finals, is here with wife, Mirka, and six-month-old twin daughters, Myla and Charlene. He gets his tournament underway on Tuesday against Russia's Igor Andreev and said he was feeling better than ever despite now mixing babysitting duties with his tennis preparations. “The hunger is still there. I'm working as hard as I have been.”

Defending champion Serena Williams insists she is fit and ready to defend her title from a strong field led by the returning Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. Williams appeared to be struggling with a left knee problem in her Sydney International final loss to Elena Dementieva on Friday but was moving freely during a charity doubles match for the Haiti earthquake victims here on Sunday.

“The knee is much better,” she said. “I definitely want to do the best I can, obviously, but I also want to pace myself. Hopefully I can play seven single rounds and six double rounds.”

A dominant Williams crushed Dinara Safina in the final last year and went on to claim the Wimbledon title.

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