Nadal not focused on top ranking

Rafael Nadal just wants to remain healthy and happy in 2019, saying he was unfazed by the top ranking.

Spaniard Rafael Nadal endured a difficult 2018, playing just nine tournaments before undergoing ankle surgery in November.   -  Getty Images

Rafael Nadal insisted regaining the number one ranking was not a focus as he prepares for a competitive return at the Brisbane International.

The Spanish star endured a difficult 2018, playing just nine tournaments before undergoing ankle surgery in November.

Nadal finished the year with a 45-4 win-loss record and five titles, ending up second to Novak Djokovic in the rankings.

But the 17-time Grand Slam champion said returning to the top was not a target of his this year.

"It's not my goal. My goal is just be happy doing what I am doing and be competitive all the ways that I'm playing," Nadal told a news conference on Tuesday.

Read: It's important to keep moving forward, says Nadal

"I want to feel myself competitive every day that I am on court and I want to keep fighting for the things that really make me feel alive, for the things that motivate me.

"If I play like I played last year, I played so well all the tournaments that I played, and at the end I have a chance, fantastic.

"Of course I prefer to be number one than be number two and I prefer to be number two than number five, that's obvious, but my main goal is stay healthy, stay happy and try to play as long as possible."

Nadal is set to play his first competitive match since September when he faces either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday.

Also read: 'Big Four' still Grand Slam favourites, says Djokovic

While the 32-year-old offered no guarantees he would be ready, Nadal hopes to take his place as expected.

"I hope so. That's why I'm here," he said.

"If I really thought that I would not play here, it would be difficult for me to be here, to be around, to be in front of you today. But as I said, I don't want to make steps back, I want to make steps forward and for me the main thing is to do things the better way possible to stay healthy.

"My hope and my goal of course is to be on court on Thursday and to be on court with a positive feeling."