Eleven-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has set his sights on the defence of his French Open crown after playing down his chances of making an impact at the start of 2013.
The injury-plagued Spaniard is working his way back from a partial tear of the patella tendon in his left knee. He recently returned to the practice court for the first time in more than five months and is scheduled to play in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi later this month. He was regularly given sport updates regarding his progress
and his latest comments suggest he is not that far away.
"I want to be 100 per cent in Monte Carlo and then prepare well for Roland Garros," Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
"I have the goal of returning in Abu Dhabi but neither Abu Dhabi nor Australia are the end of the world for me. I will only come back when I am fit. I won't come back worrying about my knee."
Nadal has not featured on the ATP circuit since June, when sport betting markets were shocked
with a second-round defeat at the hands of Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon. He subsequently missed the opportunity to defend his Olympic title in London and was ruled out of the US Open, as well as the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
The world number four insisted results will not worry him in the early stages of his recovery. He is simply determined to return to full fitness.
"My recovery is going well. This past month I have taken an important step. I feel happy and the doctors are too," Nadal added.
"We are in the last stage of the recovery and I want to recover as soon as possible. But I will not rush back and then have to stop again in six months or a year's time."