After a seven-month hiatus nursing a hurt knee, Rafael Nadal is wary about his upcoming return to the tennis court and believes it may be some time before he is back in top form.
“I have my doubts. It’s normal. We are talking about a knee, so of course I am afraid to see how it is going respond,” Nadal told Canal Plus television Friday. “But I can only trust my doctors and believe in myself and that everything will be all right.”
The 26-year-old Spaniard is set to play an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 27. It will be his first action since he was sidelined with tendinitis in his left knee after a second-round loss to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.
The injury prevented Nadal from defending his Olympic singles gold at the London Games, where he was supposed to be Spain’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony. He also had to pull out of the U.S. Open and Spain’s Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic, which his teammates lost without him.
The 11-time Grand Slam winner and former No. 1 player said his knee had improved over the last two months after making frustratingly little progress during the summer.
Even so, he acknowledged that he may have to skip some more events to get back to full speed.
“I’m prepared to accept that at the start my knee might not respond well and I may have to take it easy, mixing periods of play and rest for the first three months,” he said.
Nadal said that he wanted to play at Indian Wells and Miami with the goal of being completely fit by April to play at Monte Carlo, a clay-court tournament he has dominated for eight consecutive years.
The Abu Dhabi tournament features a six-man field that includes top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Andy Murray of Britain.
Tennis owed Murray a slam: Nadal
Nadal, who is preparing to make his long-awaited comeback after six months on the sidelines with a knee injury, believes Murray’s victory at the London 2012 Olympics was the trigger to success in New York. “I really thought Andy would win the US Open because tennis owed him something. That was my feeling,” Nadal told The Times. “The Olympics was a big change and with the calm of winning that gold medal at home, you go to a grand slam final and you feel that Andy, before the match, believed he was the favourite. “If you really believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter if you were leading by two sets to love and the opponent comes back. I really felt Andy would win, even though you know how much a great champion Djokovic is and how many matches he had saved in difficult circumstances.”