Rafael Nadal 'definitely' plans on playing the Australian Open next year after suffering a July knee injury. (AFP/Getty Images)
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley claims he recently received a picture from Rafael Nadal on his cell phone of the clay master stretching, and said that the two had a subsequent phone call in which Nadal confirmed that he is definitely planning on playing at the January 2013 Australian Open, according to a report this morning from from The Australian:
"If you know Rafa Nadal, he will be here. It always surprises what he gets up to. He did text last week and we had direct communication with him and he is planning to be back towards the end of the year and definitely play in the Australian Open."
A week earlier, Nadal had said that his injury is a "day-to-day thing" and would give no timetable for his return. He had also previously expressed a hope to make it back in time for the Australian Open, but he said that when he does come back, it will only be when he is at 100 percent.
Nadal suffered a knee injury that has kept him out since July, only weeks after winning his record seventh French Open title. The initial expectation for his return was two months.
His last competition was at Wimbledon, when he lost a five set thriller against Czech Lukas Rosol, who was then ranked 100th in the world. Prior to what is now widely considered one of the greatest upsets in Grand Slam history, Rosol had not advanced past the qualifying round in each of his last five appearances at Wimbledon. Nadal has since withdrawn from the Olympics, the Rogers Cup, the Cincinnati Masters, and the U.S. Open. Last month, on Sept. 11, Nadal officially dropped to his lowest ranking since 2010, No. 4 in the world.