Rafael Nadal is not expecting an immediate return to his best form when he makes his long-awaited comeback at the Chile Open this week.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion has not featured since suffering a serious knee injury at Wimbledon in June. He was set to return in Abu Dhabi in December but a stomach virus delayed his return and forced him to pull out of the Australian Open.
The Spaniard has now overcome the problem and will play for the first time in eight months in Vina del Mar. He will compete in a doubles match on Tuesday before his singles title bid gets underway on Wednesday.
"I have to take it slowly and be humble to know that things won't be as good as they were before my injury," said Nadal, who has slipped to fifth in the men's rankings during his lay-off.
"I need weeks of working on the circuit. I need to be patient. Hopefully I'll show an acceptable level," he added to tennis betting news reporters
The 26-year-old missed the chance to defend his Olympic title at the London Games and was forced to miss the US Open, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals. Some doom mongers in betting news circles
have suggested his career may never be the same again given the length of his lay-off.
Nadal will simply be happy to be back out on court. He said results will matter little during the early days of his recovery, but is confident about his long-term prospects.
"If my knee doesn't hurt, I have no fear. I've had had more serious injuries in the past and I got stronger after them," added Nadal.
"This is the injury that has sidelined me the longest so maybe it will take me a bit longer to get back my confidence, the good feeling on court, but if my knee doesn't hurt I don't see why I couldn't get back my movements and game style."