LONDON – A once constant fixture on the international tennis circuit, Rafael Nadal is now uncertain of if and when he will return to the game he loves.
Suffering from a knee injury that is now proving to be worse than initially thought, the Spaniard hasn't played since losing in the second round of Wimbledon in June to little-known Lukas Rosol.
Recovering from a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee, the 11-time Grand Slam champion is not sure how soon he'll be back or whether he'll play in the Australian Open in January.
"All that is in my mind is to keep working hard to come back," Nadal said in interviews with European newspapers Tuesday. "I cannot think about the future because it's not like if you break your arm."
"This is a day-by-day thing", he added. "I have checks every day to see how I'm improving. I can't predict what will happen."
Nadal could miss the ATP World Tour Finals in London Nov. 5-12 and Spain's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic Nov. 16-18.
As for the Australian Open, he was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying: "I hope you see me in Australia. That is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen."
"The only thing is to recover well. I want to be 100 percent when I come back," he said.
Nadal revealed that he played with anti-inflammatories to get through the French Open, which he won for a record seventh time, and that he took pain-killing injections at Wimbledon.
He said he was particularly upset at missing the London Olympics, where he had been scheduled to carry the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony.
"I was very, very sad for three weeks around then," he said. "It only comes every four years. Missing the U.S. Open was hard, but you think you will have more chances."
Nadal praised Andy Murray, who won the U.S. Open, for his first Grand Slam title after losing in four previous major finals.
"He deserves it more than anyone," Nadal said. "I am very happy for him."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.