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FEATURE Rafael Nadal says he's ready, amid big questions about his wrist By Kristina Puck, dpa

Europe
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Rafael Nadal knows how to win Olympic gold - he proved that in 2008 - and that‘s his aim for the Rio Olympics. But there are some big doubts about the Spanish tennis star‘s fitness. Above all: can his wrist hold up for three competitions?

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Surrounded by reporters and photographers, Rafael Nadal makes his keenly-awaited announcement: He is going to compete in Rio, and in three events - singles, doubles, mixed doubles. He says his wrist has healed well enough that he is ready to go.

Nadal does not want a repeat of the sad situation four years ago, when knee problems prevented him from competing in London. But his statement also shows some wariness.

"It is not an ideal situation, but my team captain believes that I am the best option for achieving good results for our country," Nadal said. Next to him, the team captain Conchita Martinez is listening intently. "I‘m excited to be here and really motivated," Nadal adds.

Up until his statement there had been questions as to whether, and if so, in what tennis events the Olympic champion of 2008 would compete in at the Rio Olympics. He admits to some doubts, and says the wrist injury is not completely healed up.

He says he is not "at the best level" as he has not competed in a tournament the past two months and also has not been able to train very much. His wrist will be good enough to enable the world‘s fifth-ranked tennis player to carry his nation‘s flag in the opening ceremony on Friday, but then real test begins a day later out on the hardcourts when the tennis tournament gets under way.

Nadal will be teaming up with his friend Marc Lopez in the doubles and with French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the mixed doubles.

It has been eight years since the left-hander downs Fernando Gonzalez in the singles final to win the Beijing Games gold medal - crowning a victorious run that included the French Open and Wimbledon titles that summer. Now, his last major title goes back two years ago at the French Open, his favourite of the Grand Slam tournaments.

In May, his injury stopped him in the third round of the French Open. He could no longer strike the ball, with the risk of tearing a ligament if he continued. "I won‘t play again before I am completely health," Nadal declared at the time.

So now it will be 72 days between then and his first match in Rio. The healing process took longer than anticipated, forcing him to cancel a planned appearance at a Masters tournament in Toronto.

With his arch-rival Federer also absent from Rio due to injury and with major questions about Nadal‘s wrist yet to be answered, the tennis world sees two others as favourites for gold in Rio. There‘s number one-ranked Novak Djokovic, and then there‘s Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

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