Rafael Nadal vs. Alex Kuznetsov (05:00 GMT)

Rafael Nadal (credit: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal takes on Alex Kuznetsov on Monday in the first round of the 2012 Australian Open.

After losing to Gael Monfils in Doha earlier this month, and with doubts over a shoulder injury, few people have been bigging up Nadal's chances of winning this year's Australian Open. And with little hype, Nadal has been pushed off to the Hisense Arena for his opening match.

It's quite strange not to see the second seed on one of the top two courts, but with most pundits focusing on the form of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and the likes of Andy Murray and Bernard Tomic going into this event, Nadal is flying underneath the radar.

But the Spaniard has been happy to encourage that in press conferences and told reporters: "Novak is the best because last year he did fantastic year.  He's the No.1 today.  He deserves to be there.

"I will be here fighting in every moment to try to compete against everybody with positive chances of victory."

Underestimate him at your peril. Nadal has a very nice draw and it's hard to see too many problems for him before the quarter-finals where he could face Tomas Berdych. 

He certainly won't have too much trouble against world No. 67 Kuznetsov who is competing in just his second Australian Open. The American played well in qualifying but he's simply not in Nadal's league.

Prediction: Nadal in three.


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Rafael Nadal vs. Alex Kuznetsov (05:00 GMT)

Rafael Nadal takes on Alex Kuznetsov on Monday in the first round of the 2012 Australian Open.

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