Rafter undecided on Australian Open plans

Two-time US Open champion Patrick Rafter says he might only play doubles, if at all, at next month's Australian Open.

Two-time US Open champion Patrick Rafter says he might only play doubles, if at all, at next month's Australian Open.

Rafter, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, said he would probably not enter the year's opening Grand Slam event directly and would instead take a wildcard from the tournament organizers.

That would allow him to miss the singles but remain eligible to defend his doubles title alongside Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman.

"A wildcard is going to be presented to me if I need it because if I'm not ready for it maybe I can (just) play doubles," Rafter told The Age newspaper today.

"That's what I may end up doing because if I enter in singles and I pull out, I can't play the doubles."

The Australian No 1 practiced on Monday for the first time since his surgery in October to repair a torn rotator cuff.

He suffered the injury just before this year's US Open and his bid to win three straight titles was finished when he forfeited during his first-round match.

Rafter said he was wary of rushing his comeback, especially at the Australian Open where the matches are played over five sets instead of three.

"I could be ready for it but do I want to put myself through a five-set match when I haven't even tested it out yet?" said Rafter. "This is something I can't just jump in the deep end with because if I (hurt) it I'm going to miss all of next year as well."

Rafter was sidelined for Australia's Davis Cup final win over France on the weekend, its first since 1986, and said it was a missed opportunity for him.

"I wanted to be there so badly and be part of it," said Rafter. "It was my biggest goal and I got close this year but not close enough.

"Mixed emotions aside I'm so happy for those guys to have won it."

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