• ATP Tour

Nadal may not play again this year

ESPN staff
September 25, 2012

Rafael Nadal is still no closer to knowing when he will be able to return to playing competitive tennis and has told ESPN his comeback could be "in one month, two, or even next year".

The Spaniard is currently in the midst of a lengthy layoff with a left knee injury, one which has sidelined him for the majority of the summer after he was last seen in action at Wimbledon in late June.

At present the 11-time grand slam winner is taking a patient approach to his recovery, with a slow but methodical recuperation process steadily pushing him towards full fitness.

"At the moment we're working towards getting back to action as soon as possible, but obviously I'm not going to return to playing before I'm ready," Nadal said. "The objective is to recover fully. I'm doing everything I can day-by-day, and week-by-week I feel I'm getting there."

The Spanish tennis federation doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro was recently quoted as saying that Nadal could be back on a practice court as early as the start of October, but the 26-year-old is adopting a cautious approach to naming a potential return date.

"At present I'm doing a lot of swimming, a lot of gym work, making progress and feeling improvements," he said.

"I want to return when I'm ready to compete at the highest level and without any problems, and that could be in one month, it could be in two, or it could even be next year. At the moment we just don't know."

Rafael Nadal's poker level is "normal at best" © PokerStars

With the World Tour Finals in London and Spain's Davis Cup final against Czech Republic both in November, Nadal's uncertainty over whether he would be able to play has not affected his belief in his team's ability to succeed with or without him.

"Spain has a very complete team, one which has very talented players who have the ability to win," he added.

"They're coming up against a very good Czech side, but they'll do everything they can to win with or without me."

Nadal most certainly will not be gambling on the outcome of that Davis Cup showdown, admitting he currently has his hands full controlling his own fortunes at poker.

"My team is helping me improve a lot because my poker game is, well, let's say it's normal!" he laughed. "I like it, it's very competitive, it's a sport that's very different to the one I'm used to and that's something I enjoy. It's a game that can change in an instant, one which relies on a combination of skill and luck."

Rafa Nadal was launching PokerStars' Rafa Dream Day promotion where fans can win the chance to meet, play tennis and compete against the sporting legend in an intimate poker game in Majorca. For details visit www.pokerstars.com

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.