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Former champion Wawrinka confirms Australian Open start

AFP  |  Melbourne 

Relieved former winner Stan Wawrinka confirmed today he will play the Australian Open, saying his knee is holding up well but he was still feeling

The three-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played since in July after and pulled out of an exhibition event in late last month, casting doubt on whether he would be ready.

He admitted it had been a race against time, but said he was confident enough to take the next week against first-round opponent

"For me, I think the fact that I'm here and I'm going to play the first one, it's a big victory," he said after a week of intense practice in against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and others.

"It's the best that I could have dreamed when I had the -- to be here sitting in front of you and to say, 'Okay, I'm going to play the first match'.

"That's something really good from my side, especially from the knee."

The Swiss star, who has dropped down the rankings to be seeded nine at the season-opening Grand Slam, said the "is getting way better", but there was still

"It depends on the way I'm moving, what I'm doing. But it's normal," he said, adding that he was in regular touch with his doctor in

"I still have a lot of work to do physically and also tennis-wise to be at my top level. I'm going to take the time I need for that.

"I know I need to start somewhere. I think here was a good start, to get pushed, to see also mentally how I'm going to react, how I'm going to feel when I'm going to be playing matches."

After in August, Wawrinka, 32, said he spent eight weeks on crutches, with the also taking a mental toll.

A final decision to compete was only made Saturday in welcome for tournament organisers, with five-times runner-up and Japan's already ruled out with

Despite the 2014 champion deciding to start, he acknowledged it would not be easy to tackle intense five-set matches, potentially in searing heat, when he hasn't played at such a level for so long.

And in an admission that he may not go far, he said he didn't win many sets in his practice routines against some of the top names in the game.

"I practised with Rafa, I practised with Novak, with (Tomas) Berdych, with (Gael) Monfils, with (Grigor) Dimitrov," said the popular star, nicknamed "Stanimal".

"I didn't win many sets, but that's not the most important. I did way more hours in one week that I've done the last few months, and against a way better level of intensity.

"That was my goal, to come here, to practise three, four hours a day, to see how the knee holds up.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, January 13 2018. 16:35 IST