Rafael Nadal hoping for injury-free return to ATP Tour after seven-month absence
Rafael Nadal insists he is keeping his expectations low as he prepares to make his long-awaited return to action.
Last Updated: 30/01/13 5:14pm
The 26-year-old French Open champion has not played since losing to Czech Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June 2012 due to a partial tear of the patella tendon and inflammation in his left knee.
His planned return at the end of last year was delayed due to illness and he is scheduled to play on his favoured clay at three events, starting in Vina del Mar, Chile, on February 4 and taking in the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo and the Mexico Open in Acapulco.
But the 11-time Grand Slam winner says his immediate focus is on fitness, not finals.
He told reporters: "Well I am going to play (after) a long time in a tennis tournament, professional tennis tournament, after seven months.
"The motivation, the illusion is big, so very happy to be back in the competition but just you know, with patience to know how the knee will answer after a long time without the top level.
"The most important thing for me is the knee...that I can support the pain of the knee and then if I am able to play these three tournaments in a row I think it will work very well for me because I will have three important weeks to prepare for the rest of the season.
"I know that the first three tournaments are going to be difficult in terms of results but I am going to try everything. I will need a few weeks to see how things improve."