Rafael Nadal has revealed that the difference between his participation in the Australian Open in 2017 and the one this year was that last year he came to the tournament with a complete pre-season under his belt, which was not possible this year.

The Spaniard pulled out of the Brisbane International as he was still having issues with his knee and the lack of practice proved fatal as he failed to get past the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open, retiring against Marin Cilic as the game wore on to five sets. Roger Federer pushed on to reclaim his Australian Open title, taking his tally to 20 Grand Slams.

Both players had a brilliant 2017 campaign, matching each other with two Grand Slams apiece. Rafa won the French Open and the US Open, while the Swiss ace was not to be left behind as he turned back time to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon. 2018 began as the last with Federer turning the screw in Melbourne, leaving the Spaniard with a lot of catching up to do.

However, as per Nadal, his lack of preparation before the tournament, which was down to his knee, proved to be the difference between the two years, where last year he had managed to make it to the finals in Melbourne, despite eventually losing to Federer.

"I did not have a pre-season as complete as the previous one because the knee had been affected, but it had reached the point we wanted, which was to win a couple of games and do it with good feelings. I felt at the level we wanted and prepared to aspire for everything [all competitions]," Nadal told Ultima Hora.

Nadal went on to add that his current injury is not serious and that he expects to be competing again in Acapulco., barring unforeseen setbacks, with the tournament commencing on 26 February.

"Yes, except unforeseen [setbacks] the calendar remains the same. When I got hurt, I knew it was not very serious. It is easier to accept accidental injuries in which you have to do some things and comply with a calendar," he added.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal had to retire from the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images