Rafael Nadal says he will not be back to his best until the clay-court season

Last Updated: 03/12/12 10:40pm

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Rafael Nadal: Does not think he will be able to win the Australian Open

Rafael Nadal: Does not think he will be able to win the Australian Open

Sky Bet

Rafael Nadal has played down any hopes of winning the Australian Open but is targeting a return to top form during the clay-court season.

The Spaniard is nearing a competitive comeback following a lengthy injury absence, with his last appearance coming at Wimbledon in June.

Nadal was diagnosed with a partial tear of the patella tendon and inflammation of the left knee and only recently returned to a practice court.

He plans to play in the opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne but says he will not be back to his best until the run-up to the French Open, where he is set to go for an eighth title.

"My recovery is going well and the doctors are pleased," Nadal told Spanish radio.

"I have to look at my career with a five-year view. I considered having surgery, but the doctors have always preferred not to take risks with my treatment."

He added: "I would like to return in January. I don't expect to return and win the Australian Open, I have to be realistic. The results will not worry me in the first tournaments back.

"I have to take into account my form after so long out. It wouldn't bother me if I slipped down to 15th in the world as long as inside I knew was able to continue.

"I want to be 100 per cent in time for Monte Carlo and the run-up to Roland Garros."

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