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Nadal withdraws from Brisbane International

World number one Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International, instead opting to head straight to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.

Nadal, 31, withdrew from the ATP Finals in November due to a right knee injury, which is reportedly still troubling him.

The Spanish superstar announced on Thursday he would miss the ATP 250 event in Brisbane, where he reached the quarter-finals this year.

“I am sorry to announce I will not be coming to Brisbane this year,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.

“My intention was to play but I am still not ready after last year’s long season and the late start of my preparation. I had a great time there and it was a great start to the month I spent in Australia.

“I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the fourth in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open.”

If Nadal begins his year at Melbourne Park, it would mark the first time in his career he would have played the Australian Open after not featuring at a lead-up tournament.

A 16-time grand slam champion, Nadal has won the Australian Open once – in 2009 – while he lost an enthralling final against Roger Federer earlier this year.