Kooyong targets Nadal
Melbourne - January's AAMI Classic is hoping for a scheduling miracle as officials at Kooyong club seek to add Rafael Nadal to the 2013 entry at the eight-man pre-Australian Open tune-up.
The tournament, which will celebrate 25 years at the upcoming edition played at the former home of the Australian Open, said on Tuesday that they are in touch with all four members of the ATP "Big Four" - Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Nadal, who has not played for almost five months due to a knee injury.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has not competed at the event, to be held January 9-12.
The exhibition tournament has been considered ideal Grand Slam preparation due to its guaranteed matches.
The event has struggled in recent seasons to attract top players due to deep-pocketed rivals from the Gulf, with Federer a former regular before he began turning up at the ATP event in Doha.
Officials said they are saving one place in the field for a possible entry from one of the game's elite, with Nadal top of the target list.
The Spaniard's return to the courts from a long injury layoff has been the subject of vast speculation, with earliest suspicions that it will come at a post-Christmas exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
"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 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.