Rafael Nadal is "not too alarmed" about suffering back-to-back losses ahead of the Australian Open following his latest United Cup defeat.

The Spaniard suffered a second successive reverse in Sydney, going down 3-6 6-1 7-5 to Alex de Minaur after falling to Cameron Norrie.

Nadal is set to go in search of a record-extending 23rd grand slam title later this month, having won in Melbourne in 2022.

Yet the 36-year-old is not getting hung up on his form, instead taking the losses as learning curves.

"I have two weeks before the Australian Open starts," he said. "I can't say the situation is ideal, but I can't say it's negative.

"I was playing good. I need hours on court, I need battles like this. Days like these two help. I need to keeping fighting.

"I'm not too alarmed, too negative about what happened. I think it was a real chance to lose these kinds of matches."

Nadal won the first set against De Minaur, and was a game away from victory in the decider before succumbing to a comeback.

"Alex played better in the crucial moments. That made the difference," Nadal said.

"I had my chances to win, but I made costly mistakes when I could not afford them. You can not win a match like this while doing that."

Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer, though a representative described the prognosis as "good".

Navratilova won 18 grand slam singles titles between 1978 and 1990, making her one of the most decorated players of all time.

She underwent successful treatment for breast cancer in 2010, but it has now been confirmed she is battling the illness again.

Navratilova said: "This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I'm hoping for a favourable outcome.

"It's going to stink for a while but I will fight with all I have got."

Navratilova, 66, was due to travel to Melbourne this month to work on coverage of the Australian Open, a tournament she won three times.

But with her treatment due to start later in January, it has been confirmed she will not be in attendance.

A statement from a representative explained: "The prognosis is good and Martina will start her treatment this month.

"The cancer type is HPV and this particular type responds really well to treatment.

"Martina noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during the WTA finals in Fort Worth. When it didn't go down, a biopsy was performed, the results came back as stage one throat cancer.

"At the same time as Martina was undergoing the tests for the throat, a suspicious form was found in her breast, which was subsequently diagnosed as cancer, completely unrelated to the throat cancer.

"Both these cancers are in their early stages with great outcomes.

"Martina won't be covering the Australian Open for Tennis Channel from their studio but hopes to be able to join in from time to time by Zoom."

Iga Swiatek warned rivals "I'm getting stronger and stronger in my mind" as she targets another memorable season in 2023.

The world number one enjoyed a dominant 2022 as she landed eight titles, including the French Open and US Open, while also embarking on a 37-match winning streak – the longest this century on the WTA Tour – and registering 22 'bagel' sets.

Swiatek made a winning start to her 2023 campaign at the United Cup with Poland earlier in the week, beating Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 6-1 6-3 in Brisbane.

While acknowledging she must not become complacent this year and rely on past glories, the 21-year-old feels better prepared for the season with the Australian Open just a fortnight away.

"I feel more solid, and I feel more stability as well because last year, Adelaide was my first tournament with a new coach [Tomasz Wiktorowski], so that was my main focus," she said.

"This year, I have totally different challenges, so it's really hard to compare. But I feel like I had more time to actually work on some technical stuff at home, and hopefully I'm going to be able to use it in matches.

"I just think that it's going to be pretty easy for my head to compare everything to last year. And I feel like it's not really going to be helpful.

"Last year, it wasn't perfect, but sometimes when you win tournaments, all your head can remember is those good moments and that it went so smoothly.

"It wasn't like that, but I don't really want to go into those tournaments and be held back by my previous results. I want to treat it as new chapters, so I'm going to try to do that.

"But this is the biggest challenge I'd say, and we'll see how I'm going to go with that. Usually when I had goals like that, I had ups and downs, but I feel like I'm getting stronger and stronger in my mind, so maybe I'm going to be able to control that."

Rafael Nadal shot down questions over his potential retirement after losing to Cameron Norrie at the United Cup, saying he is "here to continue playing tennis".

As part of his preparation for next month's Australian Open, 22-time grand slam winner Nadal fell to a 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat to Norrie as Great Britain seized a 2-0 lead over Spain in Sydney.

Norrie had not won a set against Nadal in their previous four matches, and the 36-year-old was asked afterwards how much longer he planned to continue before calling it a day on his historic career.

"Every time I come to a press conference, it seems like I have to retire," Nadal told reporters. "You're very, very interested in my retirement.

"At the moment, that's not the case. When this day comes, I'll let you know.

"But don't go on the subject of retirement because I'm here to continue playing tennis."

With just over two weeks until Nadal's Australian Open title defence gets underway, the Spaniard knows he will have to improve on his performance against Norrie, saying: "I need to be faster physically and a little more solid.

"There is a way to improve, but I have time before the Australian Open starts in two weeks."

While Nadal's shaky performance against Norrie could cause concern over whether he can defend his crown in Melbourne, he was keen to credit the British number one, stating: "He is a top player.

"He didn't impress me much because I know he is very good. He did a lot of things well, very solid, without mistakes, serving well. I can do things better and I need to."

Nadal will be in action again at the United Cup on Sunday, taking part in a doubles match with Paula Badosa against Daniel Evans and Harriet Dart.

Alexander Zverev recognised his game remains below expectations after ending a six-month competitive absence, but the German is unconcerned as he continues his recovery.

The two-time ATP Finals winner suffered a serious ankle injury during the semi-finals of the French Open against Rafael Nadal, ruling him out of the rest of the 2022 season.

Though he has played in a number of exhibition matches since, Zverev only made his competitive return to action on Saturday at the United Cup in Sydney.

There, he suffered a 6-4 6-2 straight sets loss to the Czech Republic's Jiri Lehecka, though he was philosophical about his performance afterward.

"My tennis is far away from the level I want it to be," he said. "I think it is normal, not playing for seven months. There are things that are different than I'm used to.

"[Am I] concerned? Probably not. Physically, I'm not at the level that I have to be. This is not even a question. I'm getting tired a lot quicker than I did. I'm not as fast as I probably was.

"I don't think it will be a matter of tomorrow, [or] after tomorrow. It will be a few weeks until I'm back to the level I want to be."

Zverev, an Olympic gold medallist and US Open finalist, is anticipated to figure in next month's Australian Open, where he will be chasing a maiden grand slam trophy.

The German is focused on reaching full fitness rather than putting undue pressure on himself, though, adding: "I think it's tough to set expectations right now.

"It would be unrealistic and quite stupid for me to set the expectations towards winning or something like that.

"Of course, I want to win. Everybody wants to win. [But] for me, it's about getting back the form that I'm used to."

Novak Djokovic is hoping for a positive crowd reception at the upcoming Australian Open after his deportation prior to the 2022 tournament.

Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open winner and will be looking to etch his name on the trophy once again in the first grand slam of 2023.

The Serbian was banned from playing at the most recent edition after he was deported due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, despite being initially granted a medical exemption.

As a result, Djokovic missed out on the opportunity to lift a record-extending 10th title, as long-time rival Rafael Nadal won the tournament in his absence.

There had been concerns over Djokovic's ability to play in Melbourne this time around, but a change in border entry rules means travellers are no longer required to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

The incident earlier in 2022 did not go down well with some sections of the Australian public, but Djokovic is hoping to receive a warm reception when he takes to the court in Adelaide and then Melbourne.

"I'm hoping everything is going to be positive," Djokovic said at a press conference. "Obviously it's not something I can predict.

"I'll do my best to play good tennis and bring good feelings and emotions to the crowd. This is what we do as professional athletes, we are also entertainers in a way. We try to make people feel good, have fun and go home and have good memories.

"Hopefully that's going to happen with me. I don't know how many matches I'll play but I'm hoping I can go all the way."

As well as the Australian Open, Djokovic's vaccination status also prevented him from competing at Flushing Meadows, and the memories of how he was treated still linger in Djokovic's mind.

The world number five explained: "Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, team, anybody who is close to me. It's obviously disappointing to leave the country like that.

"You can't forget those events. It's one of these things that stays with you for I guess the rest of your life.

"It's something that I've never experienced before and hopefully never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that as I said will stay there but I have to move on. Coming back to Australia speaks [to] how I feel about this country, how I feel about playing here."

Djokovic is drawing on his impressive record in Australia, as he prepares for the grand slam by taking part in the Adelaide International.

"It's great to be back in Australia," he added.

"It's a country where I've had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. It's by far my most successful grand slam.

"The good memories and history I have on Australian soil gives me a lot of positive emotions and belief I can do it again and go far.

"I always have faith in myself and belief I can win every tournament I play in, with the career I've had I deserve to have that kind of mental approach."

Djokovic also confirmed he had split from physio Uli Badio after over five years of working together.

The 35-year-old will instead be using the services of Claudio Zimaglia, who most recently worked with Brandon Nakashima.

Novak Djokovic's imminent return to the Australian Open will be good for tennis, according fellow great Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic arrived in Australia this week and will compete in the first of two Adelaide International tournaments before the opening grand slam of 2023 begins on January 16.

In January this year, the 21-time grand slam winner was deported from Australia after being prevented from participating at the last edition of the event, having initially been granted a medical exemption to enter the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

There were concerns Djokovic would then be banned from entering Australia again, but a change in border entry rules means travellers are no longer obliged to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

While Djokovic's presence may represent a blow to Nadal's hopes of defending the title he clinched in the Serbian's absence last year, the Spaniard is pleased to see him taking part.

"Novak is here, it's good for tennis, probably good for the fans," Nadal said. "Let's see. [Having the] best players on court is always better."

Meanwhile, 22-time grand slam champion Nadal saw his former long-time rival Roger Federer retire this year, but he is not looking to follow suit despite being plagued by injuries in recent months.

Asked whether his upcoming appearance at the Australian Open could be his last, the 36-year-old said: "As a professional, you never know. Hopefully not.

"I mean, when you are at the age of 36, you never know when it's going to be the last one. It's obvious, but I don't like to talk about that because I am not in that mood now.

"I'm just focused on trying to play at the highest level possible and giving myself a possibility to keep being competitive, to fight for anything.

"That's my goal now, I'm not thinking about it being my last time here. If that's the last time, let's try to enjoy it as much as possible and try to create something special.

"I am happy doing what I am doing. I'm looking forward to still doing this."

Rafael Nadal is aiming to "recover positive feelings" ahead of launching his 2023 season at the inaugural United Cup.

The Spaniard became the most successful male player in grand slam history last season as he took his title tally to 22 after landing the Australian Open and French Open.

Only Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz (both five) won more events on the ATP Tour than Nadal (four) in 2022, but his campaign ended with early exits at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals.

The 36-year-old will return to action this week at the United Cup, where he lines up alongside the likes of Paula Badosa and Pablo Carreno Busta for Spain, before defending his Australian Open crown.

"The beginning of the season is always exciting," said Nadal, who plays Great Britain's Cam Norrie on Saturday.

"Even if I don't know how many seasons I have on the tour, the start of each year is always different.

"I have the highest motivation to try to start well. It's always important to start well for me, for the confidence.

"The past few months haven't been easy for me. I just try to have the right practice here before the tournament starts. Then of course, try to help the team.

"[The main thing for me now is to recover the positive feelings on court, being competitive. I hope to.

"I am ready to make that happen, but let's see. Only thing that I am focused now is to try to put myself in a competitive level."

Novak Djokovic made a low-key arrival in Australia on Tuesday and can expect a warm welcome from tennis fans a year on from his deportation drama, according to grand slam boss Craig Tiley.

Tiley, tournament director at the Australian Open, said he was confident the public would respond positively to the 21-time major winner who was thrown out of the country ahead of the last Melbourne Park event.

In early January this year, Australian's then immigration minister Alex Hawke determined Djokovic should be removed from the country "on health and good order grounds" and "in the public interest".

Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption to enter Australia, despite not being vaccinated, only for border officials to block him upon his arrival, setting in motion a saga that dominated the lead-up to the championship.

There had been concerns Djokovic would be banned from the country for the next three years, as that is the punishment that usually comes with a deportation order, but instead he has been welcomed back.

Australia's border entry rules changed in July, with travellers no longer obliged to provide evidence of vaccination status.

On Tuesday, Tiley said Djokovic had arrived in Adelaide, with local media also reporting he had quietly entered the country.

The Australian Open begins on January 16, with Djokovic due to compete in the first of two Adelaide International tournaments before then, from January 1-8.

Djokovic was kept in a detention centre on his arrival last year, but this time the 35-year-old Serbian can expect all the trappings that come with his status as an all-time tennis great.

"He finished 2022 playing the best tennis, he does want to get to equalling the current record held by Rafa," said Tiley at a press conference, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "He has a goal to be the greatest of all time."

Djokovic has nine Australian Open men's singles titles, the most of any player.

Should he scoop another, he would move alongside Rafael Nadal on 22 slams, the most singles majors won by a man. Nadal won the Australian Open in Djokovic's absence last year.

Tiley thinks Djokovic has achieved enough in his career for last January's sorry soap opera to be set aside, saying: "I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public.

"We're a very well-educated sporting public, particularly those who come to the tennis, they love their tennis, they love seeing greatness, they love seeing great athleticism, great matches.

"And I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react like we hope they would react and have respect for that."

Ahead of his journey Down Under, Djokovic had said: "I'm just glad to have a chance to start there.

"After obviously what happened earlier this year, hopefully, I can have a decent reception there, and that can help me play some good tennis."

Novak Djokovic wants to play for as long as his body is able as he aims to emulate Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer after coming through a challenging 2022 campaign.

Djokovic began last season in somewhat controversial circumstances after he was barred from the Australian Open for his stance on vaccination for the global coronavirus pandemic.

The 21-time grand slam champion lost his world number one spot after failing to defend his French Open crown but roared back to glory at Wimbledon.

A record-matching fifth ATP Finals title took him level with the recently retired Federer and 35-year-old Djokovic has no intentions of slowing down in the new year.

"I would like to play as long as I possibly can," he stated in Dubai on Friday. "I don't have really any number in my head.

"Things are progressing so far pretty well for me. I can't complain. So as long as I play at this level, as long as I have the fire, I'll keep going."

Djokovic may have been unceremoniously deported from Australia earlier this year amid the fallout over his vaccination status but he has enjoyed playing at the first grand slam of the year in recent seasons.

At no other grand slam event has the Serbian been more prolific, with nine titles to date, and he is relishing the chance to start his season in Melbourne once more.

"I'm just glad to have a chance to start there," he added. "My record has been pretty decent over the years in Australia. So I look forward to going there.

"I always ask for the best for myself. Over the years, I've been really fortunate to start very strong in Australia and love playing there.

"After obviously what happened earlier this year, hopefully, I can have a decent reception there, and that can help me play some good tennis."

Rafael Nadal has revealed he had tears in his eyes as Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup final glory.

Even for Real Madrid fan Nadal, there was a joy in seeing former Barcelona talisman Messi achieve his greatest feat at an age when some doubted he would ever lift the trophy.

Now 35, Messi was the driving force behind Argentina's success in Qatar. He scored two goals as Sunday's final against France ended in a pulsating 3-3 draw, plus a penalty in the shoot-out that followed, clinching the Golden Ball as the tournament's outstanding player.

For Nadal, who won his 22nd grand slam two days after turning 36 in June, seeing another person achieving late-career success is something to which he can relate.

"Messi lifting the World Cup made me happy. That someone so great culminates with a title that was missing, of this calibre, with all that it means for Argentina, it seemed fair to me," Nadal said.

"I enjoyed it and I was moved. Without siding with Argentina, when Messi scored the third goal tears came to my eyes.

"It was because of the emotion of seeing someone so great achieve what was missing, having suffered so much to achieve it."

Nadal would also have taken a close interest in Kylian Mbappe hitting a hat-trick for France in the Lusail Stadium final, given the Paris Saint-Germain striker is a long-time Madrid target.

Mbappe snubbed Madrid to sign a new PSG contract in May, but it would be no surprise if eventually he ends up at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The matter of Mbappe came up in an interview with AS, who made Nadal their athlete of the year.

Nadal was asked if he would forgive Mbappe if he signed for Madrid.

"I don't have to forgive Mbappe for anything and as a Madrid fan, if he could, come tomorrow," Nadal said.

"In the end, things happen in sports and I suppose that such a young boy was overwhelmed by such tremendous pressure from all angles that in the end... I think he wanted to come to Madrid, but due to many factors, everything was very complicated for him. Hopefully we can see him in Madrid in the future."

Nadal said he would be leaving for Australia on December 26 and cautioned against expecting too much immediately at the start of the new tennis season, pointing to "very difficult" singles matches at the United Cup against Cameron Norrie and Nick Kyrgios.

The Australian Open, where Nadal is the defending men's singles champion, begins on January 16 in Melbourne, with all the focus on getting into prime shape by then.

"Let's see now how the year begins. I'm aware that I'm a little tight here, but I'm confident that I can get to the level I need to be competitive in Australia," Nadal said.

"We'll see what happens. Things change very quickly in sports. But I have the illusion of having a good year again and giving myself options to compete again at the highest level. I am aware that I am the age that I am, and that things happen. I will have to manage it in the best possible way and try to do my best to give myself real options."

Nick Kyrgios has doubled down on the claim he will retire if he wins a grand slam next year, saying years of intensive travel have left him "exhausted".

Kyrgios enjoyed the best grand slam run of his career when he finished as runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon this year, while he also reached the last eight at the US Open.

However, the Australian questioned his future in the sport earlier this week, telling reporters in Dubai: "Hopefully I can win a slam and just retire."

Speaking to Eurosport, the world number 22 insisted that remark was serious, saying his private life had suffered due to his time spent travelling to take part in ATP Tour events. 

Asked if he would really call time on his career in the event of winning a first major singles title, Kyrgios said: "Honestly, I probably would.

"Especially being from Australia as well, there's just so much travel, so much time away from family, so much time away from friends. 

"You're just missing milestones in the family, you're just not having a normal life, really. No other tennis player that's not from Australia gets that."

Kyrgios believes few athletes can match the sacrifices he has made in his career, citing the strain caused by spending long periods away from his home country. 

"It's easy for a European or an American player to lose or win a tournament, then you take a five-hour flight back home and you spend a week there before the next event," Kyrgios said.

"Whereas as an Australian, you're doing four- to seven-month travel blocks. Honestly, I don't think it's healthy. 

"No other real athlete does that in the world, in any sport, doing seven months on your own. 

"I'm exhausted honestly. It's just stressful. The more you win, the more success you have, the more demands you have off the court. People expect more from you. 

"People are like, 'why are you complaining about it?' It's not what they think. You're living out of a suitcase at hotels, it's not like you're on holiday. 

"You've got to go to tennis courts and train. The lifestyle is quite vigorous. If it happens, I probably would [retire], to be honest."

Kyrgios has only reached the last eight at the Australian Open on one occasion, and with the next edition of his home slam approaching, the 27-year-old is less than enthusiastic.

Asked if he will feel refreshed by the time the Melbourne major begins next month, Kyrgios said: "Probably not. There is a little bit of excitement, but it's probably 95 per cent stress, five per cent excitement, to be honest."

Andy Murray has conceded he is just one major injury from being forced to retire, though the three-time grand slam winner remains keen to play on.

Murray underwent two hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, causing him to spend much of the last four years on the sidelines.

However, Murray returned to the top 50 of the world rankings after making two tour-level finals in 2022, while his run to the third round of the US Open represented his joint-best grand slam campaign since Wimbledon 2017.

The two-time Wimbledon champion saw rival Roger Federer retire from the sport in September after struggling with a knee injury, and while he acknowledges fitness concerns could force his hand, Murray is not yet looking to follow suit.

"If my body is in good shape and I'm still able to compete consistently, I'll keep playing," Murray said.

"But I can't look so far in advance with the age I'm at and with the issues I've had. If I was to have a big injury, I probably wouldn't try to come back from that."

Murray has been training with coach Ivan Lendl in a bid to ensure he enters next month's Australian Open in peak condition, having missed three of the last five editions of the tournament.

"I spent three weeks in Florida, getting my body right and getting some work done on my game and it went really well," he said.

"I'm certainly in better shape than I was. A lot of work was done in the gym, trying to build up my endurance and my stamina a bit and I'm hoping that's going to help me next year.

"I wasn't happy with how last season went – certainly the last six months or so from a physical perspective – but my ranking still went from 125 to 50 in a year. 

"I'm hoping that this year, with the work I've done, things will continue to improve and I'll still be motivated to get out there and compete."

Rafael Nadal has made a swift appointment after long-time ally Francis Roig left his coaching team.

The record 22-time men's grand slam singles champion has brought in Argentinian Gustavo Marcaccio to work with lead coach Carlos Moya and Marc Lopez.

Nadal announced on Friday that Roig was departing, having worked with the Spaniard since 2005, to take on "a new project".

With the new ATP season just days away from beginning, Marcaccio has accepted the chance to step in, with the 45-year-old having held a position at Nadal's academy in Mallorca for the past 20 months.

Marcaccio had a mostly undistinguished playing career, reaching a high of 284th on the rankings, but he has strong coaching credentials, having worked with the likes of Juan Monaco, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Guido Pella.

Nadal wrote on Twitter: "Hello everyone. I want to inform you of the incorporation of Gustavo Marcaccio to the technical team.

"Gustavo has been working at the @rafanadalacademy since April 2021 and I understand that he is a good addition to the team. I am sure he will help us a lot to follow the path. Welcome!"

Nadal will return to Melbourne as the defending champion at the Australian Open in January, having won that and the French Open in 2022 to move ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the men's all-time grand slam list.


Tennis icon Venus Williams will compete in her 22nd Australian Open in January after it was announced on Sunday she had been awarded a wildcard entry.

Williams, 42, is a seven-time grand slam singles champion, but she only played four competitive matches in 2022, losing all four.

A five-time Wimbledon winner with two US Open titles on the singles side, Williams is also one of the sport's most decorated doubles players, collecting another 14 grand slam doubles titles, including four in Australia.

She won the Australian Open doubles in 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2010, while making the singles final in both 2003 and 2017.

In the press release announcing her wildcard, Williams confirmed her plans to compete once again in Melbourne.

"I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January," she said.

"I've been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly.

"It will be an honour to play for the fans again and I'm looking forward to making more memories at the tournament this year."

It remains to be seen if she will be joined by her sister, Serena, who is a seven-time singles champion at the event and Venus' partner for her four doubles successes.

After her exit from the US Open, Serena heavily implied she was weighing up another go down under, saying "I always did love Australia".

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