But the 31-year-old also flew to Australia under an injury cloud and has still not played a competitive match since withdrawing from the ATP World Tour Finals in November because of a knee injury.
However, Nadal has played in two exhibition tournaments this week with no apparent pain and is expected to be fully fit for his first-round clash with Victor Estrella Burgos.
The world No 81 will be facing Nadal for the first time ever at the age of 37 with either Nicolas Jarry or more likely Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer awaiting the winner in the second round.
Roger Federer appears to have been given an easier draw than Rafael Nadal
The American recorded his first ever win over Nadal last year, beating the Spaniard 7-5, 7-6 at the inaugural Laver Cup competition in September.
Federer meanwhile looks set to make what is now customarily serene progress through the early rounds after being handed a kind bottom quarter.
The Swiss, who played three five-setters including the final at last year’s tournament, will take on former Brit Aljaz Bedene in the first round, an opponent he has also never faced before but is unlikely to cause him many problems.
World No 31 Richard Gasquet is on an eight-match losing streak against Federer and could face him again in the third round while Sam Querrey or Milos Raonic are the potential fourth-round opponents.
Novak Djokovic was regarded as a “dangerous floater” as the No 14 seed after six months off – he will have to come through Donald Young and then probably Gael Monfils, and if he wants to make the quarter-finals he will probably have to come through Alexander Zverev.
Australian Open 2018 draw top half
Australian Open 2018 draw bottom half
Australian Open 2018 odds (Betfair)
Roger Federer 7/4, Rafael Nadal 7/2, Novak Djokovic 6/1, Grigor Dimitrov 10/1, Alexander Zverev 14/1, Nick Kyrgios 14/1, JM Del Potro 14/1, David Goffin 18/1, Dominic Thiem 25/1, Stan Wawrinka 25/1, Marin Cilic 30/1, Milos Raonic 40/1, Kevin Anderson 40/1, Jack Sock 50/1.