MANACOR, Spain: Rafa Nadal returned to the practice court and started hitting balls again yesterday for the first time since the latest in a series of knee injuries forced his withdrawal from the US Open at the end of August.
The 11-times grand slam singles champion, who has not competed since a shock defeat to Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon in June, completed a session under the supervision of coach and uncle Toni Nadal on an indoor hard court in his home town of Manacor on the island of Majorca.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, the current world number four, hopes to be back to full fitness in time for the Australian Open in January.
“I think I am feeling better, the knee is improving the right way and I am happy to be on court another time after a few months outside,” Nadal told reporters.
“I am just enjoying the feeling to be playing tennis another time and, well, it will be another period of my recovery,” he added.
“I start very slow and I go day by day. I will work hard in my comeback and hopefully the knee will be ready soon.
“Always you have to be careful. A few months outside of competition the body has to re-adapt everything on court and all the muscles need to start very slow.”
Nadal’s athletic, aggressive playing style places huge demands on his muscles and joints and has been sidelined several times by knee problems during his 11-year career.
His latest injury was diagnosed as a partial tear of the patella tendon and an inflammation of the Hoffa’s fat pad in his left knee.
He was unable to defend his Olympic title at the London Games. REUTERS