Rafael Nadal is targeting a return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi at the end of December before returning to the ATP Tour in Brisbane in the first week of January.
The Spaniard ended what was a successful 2017 campaign with a knee injury and is currently taking a break to recover from his latest setback. Nadal won six titles including two Grand Slams and ended the year as the world number one.
He was hoping to end the year with a flourish at the ATP Finals, but a knee injury forced him to pull out of the event after playing just one match. There were talks about him being doubtful for the Australian Open, but he hopes to be fit in time for the first Grand Slam of the year.
The event in Abu Dhabi is an exhibition that happens prior to the start of the season. Nadal's first ranking tournament will be at the Brisbane International which will work as preparation for the first major of the year in Melbourne. He will be defending 1000-points after making the finals this year, where he lost to a resurgent Roger Federer.
"It's true that I finished with an injury, so I've taken a bit of time to recover well," Nadal said, as quoted on Sky Sports. "That's why I've taken a couple of weeks off and I did my treatment and I need to start again, as I said before, slow. So, that's my goal: try to be ready for the beginning (of the season)."
"I am going to try to play in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane before Australia, so that will be the ideal situation. And let's try to make that happen," he added.
On Tiger Woods
Nadal was recently spotted in The Bahamas cheering on good friend Tiger Woods, who made his much-anticipated comeback to competitive golf at the 18-man invitational Hero World Challenge. The American was returning to action after almost 10 months owing to a back injury that has seen him have four surgeries since 2014.
Woods finished a credible tied ninth on his comeback and the 16-time Grand Slam champion has backed the 14-time golf major champion to get back to competing for important titles. But warned that health and passion will play a crucial role in helping make a successful comeback.
"He has the passion for the game and if he is healthy and he is able to practice the way that he wants to practice, mentally he is a very special athlete. So, why not he can be fighting for important things?" Nadal added.