Nadal finally returns to practice

21 November 2012 07:30:12 EST

Former world number one Rafael Nadal has made a cautious return to the practice court after injury, with his sights set on an appearance at the Australian Open.

The 26-year-old has been sidelined since losing in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol, with a long-term problem in his left knee ending his season several months prematurely.

I am just enjoying the feeling to be playing tennis.

Rafael Nadal

Having returned to the courts in his native Majorca, Nadal told reporters: "I think I am feeling better, the knee is improving the right way and I am happy to be on court.

"I am just enjoying the feeling to be playing tennis. I start very slow and I go day by day. I will work hard in my comeback and hopefully the knee will be ready soon.

"Always you have to be careful. A few months outside of competition the body has to re-adapt everything and all the muscles need to start very slowly."

Nadal, who missed the US Open, the Olympics and the Davis Cup final during his absence, will hope to be fit for the action in Melbourne in January, having won the Australian Open title in 2009 and lost in the final to Novak Djokovic earlier this year.

The Spaniard is 500/1 to be crowned champion in Melbourne in 2013, with Djokovic 1/1 and US Open champion Andy Murray 5/2.

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