Rafael Nadal says he feels "no pressure" playing at the Australian Open, and for the first time it is without his great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard is among the favourites for the title, but the Spaniard insists that the only pressure is for him to stay fit and to enjoy competing at the highest level.

The 20-time men's singles Grand slam champion was unsure about his participation at the season's first Grand Slam after struggling with a foot injury that saw him end his 2021 season prematurely. Nadal then contracted Covid-19 after making his comeback at the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in December.

Nadal recovered from the virus and made his competitive return at the Melbourne Summer Set, where he lifted the trophy. He has now won five matches in a row in Melbourne, but is yet to come up against a player ranked inside the top-50 on the ATP Tour.

The Spaniard overcame a strong performance from Yannick Hanfmann to win in straight sets and progress to the third round of the Australian Open. He will next face either 28th seed Karen Khachanov or Benjamin Bonzi.

"I'm excited about it," he said, as quoted by the Guardian. "I'm excited about the fact that I'm going to be playing in a third round for one more time here after all the things I am going through."

"I don't have big pressure on my shoulders, honestly. I don't feel it. The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing again, then give my best as I did during all my tennis career," he added.

Nadal was also asked about his plans for when he decides to call time on his illustrious career. The Spaniard admitted that he was not one to sit idle and watch TV, while revealing that he is likely to be busy focusing on the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy in Mallorca, and the Rafael Nadal Foundation.

"I'm not a guy that loves to sit at home and watch TV, I like to do things," Nadal told Jim Courier during the on-court interview after his win, as per WA Today. "I have an academy to take care about, and I have a foundation to take care about."

Rafael Nadal
"The only for me clear thing is if you are vaccinated, you can play in the Australian Open and everywhere," said Rafael Nadal on Thursday Mike FREY/AFP