Nadal won't rush comeback

Rafael Nadal has targeted a return to full fitness by April after dismissing his chances of making a winning comeback to grand slam tennis at the Australian Open.

The world number four has not played competitively since his shock second-round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June due to a partial tear of the patella tendon in his left knee, but has recently returned to the practice court.

He intends to compete at the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi later this month and then play at the season’s first major in Melbourne in January.

The 11-time grand slam winner does not believe he will be a realistic title contender for the first few months of the season, but is hoping to be back to his best for the Monte Carlo Masters which gets under way on April 14.

Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: “I want to be 100 per cent in Monte Carlo and then prepare well for Roland Garros.

“I will hopefully be ready for Australia but I am only looking at tomorrow and continuing my recovery.

“I have the goal of returning in Abu Dhabi but neither Abu Dhabi nor Australia are the end of the world for me. I will only come back when I am fit. I won’t come back worrying about my knee.”

He added: “Miracles do not exist and I am unlikely to return and compete for the Australian Open.

“The results will not worry me in the first tournaments back.

“My recovery is going well. This past month I have taken an important step. I feel happy and the doctors are too.

“We are in the last stage of the recovery and I want to recover as soon as possible but I will not rush back and then have to stop again in six months or a year’s time.”

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