• ATP Tour

Nadal plans return at Brazil Open

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal has not played since being knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon © PA Photos
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Rafael Nadal could make his long-awaited return to tennis after a seven-month injury lay-off at the Brazil Open in February.

The former world No. 1 has not played a competitive tennis match since his shock second-round exit to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June 2012, taking time out to treat and recover from tendinitis in his left knee.

The Spaniard postponed his expected comeback at an Abu Dhabi exhibition and the Australian Open when he came down with a stomach virus that prevented him from practising in the run-up to the first grand slam of 2013.

But the announcement that he will play in the Sao Paulo tournament, which begins on February 11, brings forward his expected return date - he was initially thought to be targeting a comeback at the Mexican Open in Acapulco two weeks later.

The 11-time grand slam champion has insisted he will only return to the court when he is 100% confident in the state of his knees, telling The Times that he might have pulled out of a tournament in Doha for that reason before being struck down with illness.

Nadal has played the two South American clay court tournaments just once before, winning both in 2005.

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