Stan Wawrinka is feeling positive about his chances of playing at the Australian Open as he closes in on a return from injury.
The three-time grand slam champion has not featured on the ATP Tour since August, a knee injury forcing him to miss his US Open defence, and the ATP Finals. Wawrinka – who won his first major title in Melbourne in 2014 – has been targeting this year's first grand slam for his comeback, and even delayed his return to give his body "the time it needs".
That saw him pull out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships at the back end of December, but the Swiss star is in Australia and optimistic he will be able to take his place in the main draw. "I'm really, really happy to be back on the Tour and seeing the sun," Wawrinka said after an event with the Australian Open ball kids on Tuesday.
"For me, the first thing is to play a match, to play a tennis match again. It's been many months out of the tour. It's not always the best when you are an athlete so I'm looking forward to it, enjoying the crowd. Still, a lot to do but I'm feeling really positive so looking forward to starting."
Wawrinka's words will provide a further boost to Australian Open organisers after Rafael Nadal stated his hopes of featuring despite struggling with a knee injury and losing on his return to Richard Gasquet at the Kooyong Classic.