CHENNAI:Spanish tennis ace Rafel Nadal is excited at the prospect of a podium finish at the 2008 Olympic Games, which he rates alongside the Grand Slams and Davis Cup.
''I feel a special motivation for the Olympic Games,'' Nadal said Sunday ahead of his season launching ATP Tour's Chennai Open in southern India. ''I consider the Olympics as important as the Grand Slams and Davis Cup, especially since it comes once in four years.''
The world No. 2 singles player will also make a rare ATP Tour doubles appearance this week.
Nadal's first ATP Tour title came in the doubles at the Chennai Open in 2004 in partnership with Tommy Robredo. ''The event evokes pleasant memories as I won my first title here,'' said Nadal, who has only claimed three doubles titles.
Nadal finished 2007 as No. 2 for the third successive year behind Swiss star Roger Federer.
''I don't mind being No. 2 for another 50 years,'' said Nadal. ''In different times, I would've been the world's No. 1 player. But with Roger around, I'm happy being No. 2.''
He said in 2008 he wanted to play better tennis. ''I'm physically and mentally ready for the new season.''
Nadal is the top seed in the field that features second seed Marcos Baghdatis, two-time title winner Carlos Moya, Mikhail Youzhny and reigning champion Xavier Malisse, who is returning from a long injury-forced layoff.
Malisse won both the singles and doubles titles in Chennai last year, stunning Nadal in the singles semifinal. He then joined with fellow Belgian Dick Norman to beat the Spanish duo of Nadal and Bartolome Salva-Vidal in the doubles final.
Malisse proceeded to win the Delray Beach title before being pushed to the sidelines by a wrist injury.
''I've just played two matches in 10 months, so it'll be a matter of getting use to playing again,'' said Malisse.
''I'm happy to be fit and will be glad just to go out and play,'' said Malisse, who returned to practice just two weeks ago.
''The situation and pressure in a match is different from training, I need to get my confidence back,'' he said.