Defending champion Serena Williams has played down concerns about her troublesome left knee after cancelling a practice session yesterday ahead of the Australian Open.
The world No1 lost in the semi-finals of the Sydney International on Friday to Elena Dementieva and was inconvenienced by the injury: her knee was strapped. She admitted it troubled her from the start, but said it had improved.
"The knee is much better. It was good for me to get all those matches in," insisted Williams, who confirmed the injury hadn't hampered her preparation for the first Grand Slam of the season.
"Absolutely not. If anything, it helped," she said. "I played a lot of matches in a row, back to back. I had a long three-set match [in the semis]. That was good preparation for me because I do plan on playing both singles and doubles here."
Nevertheless, concern remains after she pulled out of yesterday's practice session. But, Williams said she had enough practice with the Sydney warm-up event.
"Well, I definitely had a lot of practice with Sydney, getting that far. I don't want to push it, go too far," said the 28-year-old.
"I definitely want to do the best I can, obviously, but I also want to pace myself. Hopefully I can play seven single rounds and six double rounds."
The four-time winner at Melbourne Park is clear favourite to lift the trophy again after a fine 2009, but faces a tougher task this time with many top players making significant progress during the past year.
Yet Williams – the winner in Melbourne in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 – has the motivation, knowing one more victory will draw her level with the legendary Billie Jean King on 12 Grand Slam titles.
"It's good to be back and be part of that strong field," she said. "Just being in the draw is awesome."
Williams opens her tournament against Poland's Urszula Radwanska, the sister of 10th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
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