Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal won the men's doubles gold with partner Marc Lopez at the Rio 2016 Olympics Getty

Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has changed his schedule for the 2017 season to start Australia at the Brisbane International tournament. The Spanish superstar has favoured the Middle East over the past years to begin his campaign.

Nadal will be part of the "big four" including – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – who have participate in the event in the Sunshine state.

"It's going to be the first time in my career that I'm going to play in Australia the first week of the season and I'm really excited about it. I think this is something I have to do during my career and I think at the same time it's going to be a great preparation to be in Australia early. Everybody who has been in Brisbane has told me very beautiful things about the tournament and the place so I want to try it," Nadal said, as quoted by ATPWorldTour.

The Brisbane International Tournament director Geoff Quinlan is sure that the world number five will be a hit with fans at the Sunshine state.

"We're thrilled to announce Rafael Nadal will start his season in Brisbane in 2017 and can't wait to welcome him to Queensland Tennis centre. We've been in talks with Rafa for a number of years about competing in Brisbane, he's seen the event get bigger and better every year and we're ecstatic he's decided to join the field in 2017," Quinlan said.

"Rafa is a legend of the sport and one of the most exciting players to see live so I'm sure fans will be counting down the days to January."

The former world number one has not had the best of times in the past two years, being plagued by injuries, which have affected his form on the tennis court. Despite the wrist injury which has limited his participation in ATP tournaments, the 30-year-old still managed to win gold in the men's doubles event at the recently concluded Rio 2016 Olympic Games.