Nadal says this Aussie Open is open

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

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

The world No2, 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, but didn't want to say who he thought was.

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's failure to win that tournament means he 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.

Nadal, 23, said he hadn't had bad results, but was just struggling to get back to winning tournaments.

With injuries hampering him for much of last year, he faces a telling time at the Australian Open, which should provide a guide as to his current standing in men's tennis.

He insists the confidence is there, it's just a question of once again winning a final.

"The only way to have confidence is winning matches, winning important matches. I did that in Abu Dhabi and I did that in Doha," he said, referring to his two warm-up tournaments.

He opens his tournament with a first-round match against Australian Peter Luczak, with Briton Andy Murray looming as a possible quarterfinal opponent.

Nadal was not ready to look that far ahead.

"I never talk about quarterfinals before getting there," he said.

"There are four matches until the quarterfinals. We will see what happen before that." - Sapa-AFP

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