Faster courts at Aus Open worry Nadal

Faster courts at Aus Open worry Nadal

World number one Rafael Nadal thinks Melbourne Park's resurfaced hardcourts are playing faster than ever and may not provide a good show for fans when the Australian Open begins on Monday.

The speed of the blue Plexicushion courts has sparked debate this year, with some players adamant they have picked up in pace, while tournament director Craig Tiley says they were re-laid with exactly the same surface as previous years.

The prospect of slick courts, made even faster by baking heat forecast for the first week at Melbourne Park, has been welcomed by some players, including Roger Federer and Australian Lleyton Hewitt, but Spaniard Nadal made his displeasure clear. "Completely different conditions than what I remembered of this tournament," the 27-year-old told reporters on Saturday of his training on the courts.

"Faster conditions that I ever played here in Australia. "Well, I really don't understand very well why they change because the last couple of years, Australian Open had amazing matches, long ones, good ones for the crowd.

"I don't know why the people who decide to make the conditions that fast. "I am not sure for the show that it's the best thing. But they decide and I'm just a player to try to be competitive from the beginning.”

Nadal has thrived on slower surfaces, winning eight of his 13 Grand Slam titles on the clay courts of Roland Garros, but only one at the Australian Open in 2009.

After coming back from injury, Nadal recaptured the world number one spot but the Spaniard said he cared little for the ranking. "(The) most important thing for me is be able to be competitive in every tournament that I going to play," he said. "When you are getting older, thinking about the number one ranking is tougher.

"You have to take care a little bit more about your body, your health. For me the main goal is to try to be here for a long time, for not only one more or two more years. I have been in the top two positions, so it is not a priority today."

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