Nadal to take it one step at a time

Patience will have to be a virtue for Rafael Nadal when the former World No 1 makes his return to tennis after a seven-month injury absence at next week’s Chilean Open.

The 26-year-old Spanish left-hander has been out of action with a knee problem since losing to Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon in June.

“Hopefully I'll show an acceptable level. I have to go step by step,” said Nadal who has not played in an ATP tournament in South America since 2005.

“Things won't be the same as last year when I was okay. I'll have to be patient,” he told a news conference at the coastal city of Vina del Mar.

“I have to start from a modest position. I need to gain competition rhythm as soon as possible and I hope this tournament helps me get there.

“I'll do all I can to go as far as possible but the outcome at this tournament is the least important thing. I came here to compete because I've been off the court for a very long time.”

French Open champion Nadal has slipped to fifth in the rankings but he said that trying to regain the No 1 position was the last thing on his mind.

“After seven months out I'm not in a position to think about that,” said the 11-times Grand Slam singles winner. “I'll try to play better week after week.”

After the Chile tournament he will compete at the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo the following week and the Mexico Open in Acapulco from Feb 25.

Nadal returns on Tuesday in the doubles alongside Argentine Juan Monaco. A day later he will play a second-round singles tie against Argentine Guido Pella or a qualifier.

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