World number eight tennis player Rafael Nadal said on 13 October he was happy with the improvement in his form after reaching the final of the China Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. The Serb beat Nadal 6-2 6-2 in Beijing on 11 October, the seventh time he has beaten him in their last eight meetings, to narrow their head-to-head record to 23-22 in the Spaniard's favour.

It has been a trying time for Nadal, who failed to make it past the quarter-final stage in a grand slam tournament all year. However, despite the loss to the world number one, he was encouraged by his performances in Beijing.

"Last week has been a very positive week for me, I played better and better every single match and even if I lost the final with a clear result it's not like for a lot of moments I wasn't playing at the right level, I had a lot of chances," said the 14-time grand slam winner.

"So happy the way that I am playing again, the only thing that I want to do is keep working hard to try to start next year. Every year is so important for me now but it's always that this year has been a little bit more up and down than I would like to have."

Having previously won at least one grand slam every year since 2005, Nadal is targeting a good start to 2016 in Melbourne, where he triumphed in 2009. He said: "I am working so hard to arrive at the Australian Open with the feeling that I can fight for it. It's difficult to imagine that now for me, going on court every day to prepare myself for a strong start for 2016.

"Melbourne is the first big big tournament that I am going to be at, I hope to be ready to compete well there, and we'll see if I'm able to create a chance to have a very important result."