• ATP Tour

Nadal confident of returning to the top

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal expects to be batling for titles in the future © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal is in no doubt he can still mix it with the game's elite, but feels it could be some time before he is ready to challenge for major titles.

The Spaniard is set to make his return to action at the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi at the end of December, having been sidelined since Wimbledon on account of a knee injury.

Nadal has been given the all clear to return by his doctors, despite his knee still causing him problems, but he does not feel he will be in any position to challenge for titles in the early weeks of his comeback.

"Abu Dhabi is a test," Nadal said. "My goal is not this week, not Doha or the Australian Open. My goal is to get fit, recover all my feelings. The only thing I care about is the knee.

"The idea is to go from there. I won't give much value to what will happen next month or in two months. My real goal is to start in perfect condition at Indian Wells and Miami and reach Monte-Carlo with good feelings, to face the clay season in good condition."

Nadal has dropped to No. 4 in the world, but does not believe he has lost his ability to play the game at the highest level.

"I haven't forgotten how to play. I have played over 600 ATP matches and I have spent two years without playing. My feeling is good. I won Roland Garros and those emotions are still me," he said.

"I know I'm going to play in Abu Dhabi without the knee being great, but I feel better. The doctors say it is fine and that is great news for me. I still feel something, it's not perfect."

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