11/15/12 4:23 AM | Johan Lindahl
Rafael Nadal is a top target for the pre-Australian Open AAMI Classic as organizers try to lure the Spaniard back to tennis at the eight-man special event in Melbourne.
The Spaniard, now ranked fourth, has not played due to a knee injury since an early Wimbledon loss. While he is possibly set to compete at a post-Christmas exhibition in Abu Dhabi, Kooyong officials at the former home of the Australian Open are saving a place in their field for him as negotiations continue with the Nadal camp.
The four-day tournament, which begins January 9, is considered a prime Grand Slam tune-up due to its guaranteed match format. "We're in touch with the top four," said tournament director Colin Stubs. "Nadal's a possibility and that'd be something special for us because he's never played here."
Already confirmed for the field are Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, Australian Lleyton Hewitt, Japan's Kei Nishikori and former Melbourne finalist Marcos Baghdatis plus Serb Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Monaco of Argentina and Canadian Milos Raonic.
The event has struggled in recent seasons to attract top players due to deep-pocketed rivals from the Gulf, with Roger Federer a former regular before he began turning up at the ATP event in Doha.
Kooyong is covering all bases though, in case Nadal can't make it, with invitations also out to the rest of the world elite, including former champion Federer, No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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