ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Rafael Nadal plans to take several weeks off after the Australian Open to recover from a nagging shoulder injury.
The second-ranked Nadal said Thursday the injury surfaced before the ATP World Tour Finals in November and that he was still "not 100 percent." He only decided three days ago to defend his title at the World Tennis Championships, a two-day exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.
"I had a problem before London with my shoulder and I had to stop for about 10 days before the (ATP) finals," Nadal said Thursday in Abu Dhabi. "It felt better but again it resurfaced. In December, I did not have enough time to practice because of that."
He is hopeful his shoulder will hold up in Abu Dhabi where he will attempt to win the tournament for the third year in a row and in Doha, where he plans to play at the Qatar Open next week. After competing at the Australian Open beginning Jan. 16, the 25-year-old Spaniard said he would take February off to rest and practice.
While praising the dominance of No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won three Grand Slams, Nadal blamed himself for allowing his play to become "too predictable" at times. But he insisted he wasn't going to overhaul his game despite losing to Djokovic in six finals.
Nadal won the French Open, rallied Spain to victory in the Davis Cup final and finished 69-15 this season. He lost to Djokovic in the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
"This is not the time to change many things. This is the time to keep playing well, to keep improving my tennis," Nadal said. "I will just try and be competitive in all the tournaments. I was competitive in all the tournaments and was in three Grand Slam finals."