Rafael Nadal made 2008 his own, but the signs are not good for the Australian Open where he will bid to extend his mastery with a first hardcourt Grand Slam.
The muscular Mallorcan has played only three tour matches since October, when he wrapped up his season early with an injured right knee, and crashed out in last week's Qatar Open quarters.
Nadal, 22, was also beaten in an exhibition event by the in-form Andy Murray, and will have to play his way into form here.
"There's no damage to my confidence," he insisted in Doha.
"I knew that the beginning of the season was not going to be easy because, although I have had more rest than other players, I have also had more time outside of competition than others.
"So it is a little bit more difficult to come back fast to my rhythm.