Rafael Nadal
Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, pulled out with a hip problem in Melbourne. Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has revealed that he will steer clear of the madness that is ensuing regarding protecting his number one spot which is up for grabs after Roger Federer closed the gap on the Spaniard following his 20th Grand Slam win in Melbourne last month. The Swiss won his sixth Australian Open title, strengthening his claim as the greatest tennis player of all time.

In contrast, Nadal had to pull out of his quarter-final clash against Marin Cilic in the Australian Open with a hip injury, which has set him back by upto three weeks. The run of events have led to the duo being separated by only 155 ATP points, which can be closed down by Federer should he participate in the Dubai Open and Nadal is unable to make it to his scheduled Mexico Open, starting from 26 February.

The Spaniard has had a history of problems with his knee over the past year, having to pull out of the Paris Masters and the ATP Tour Finals in the end of 2017 after succumbing to injury. The setback saw him having to forgo his participation in the Brisbane International and forced to make his way to Melbourne without any competitive tennis under his belt.

The decision proved foolish in the long run as despite making easy work of the opening few rounds, his lack of preparation eventually caught up with him, rendering him short in a five set marathon with Cilic in the quarter-finals. The Spaniard is therefore looking to mend his ways and take a health first approach and not get caught up in the madness to protect his number one spot from Federer.

"I'm not going to commit any madness in order to keep the No 1 spot," Nadal said, as quoted by the Express. "The first thing is to be healthy, happy and eager to work."

The 31-year-old, who has won 16 Grand Slam titles, including the French and US Open last year, is ready to take a step back and preserve his body to be able to play his best tennis on clay. His goal now is to be happy and take a step back from putting his health on the line for more titles and achievements.

"At the moment I only think about recovering because for me the most important thing is to get well into the period between Monte Carlo and Roland Garros. I insist that I want to be happy and from there it is all more or less secondary," Nadal added.