Rafael Nadal will be a top player in 2013 despite his struggles with injury for most of this season, and he may even be healthy enough to compete at the Australian Open in January, as reported by ESPN in October.
"Tournament director Craig Tiley said on Tuesday that Rafael Nadal is targeting the 2013 Australian Open for his return from a knee injury."
If Nadal plays in Melbourne, he will be ready to compete at a high level. It's hard to imagine him coming back before he's ready just because it's a Grand Slam tournament.
A healthy Nadal that isn't hampered by injuries would be able to win multiple Grand Slam titles next year. He will certainly be the favorite at the French Open, which is a tournament he has won in seven of the last eight seasons.
Nadal has been almost unstoppable at Roland Garros throughout his career, and even if he is only 85-95 percent healthy at this tournament, he will still have a great chance of winning because of his clay-court brilliance.
Wimbledon is also a place where Nadal is very comfortable and has enjoyed success at in the past. Before his second-round defeat this year, the Spanish star made two consecutive finals at Wimbledon, including winning the 2010 singles title.
The U.S. Open in New York is a tournament that Nadal has won just one time in his career despite making the semifinals four times. He's improved on hard courts over the last few seasons, so if he's healthy next August, expect Nadal to be a top contender at this tournament.
Right now, I would predict that Nadal will win one Grand Slam tournament (French Open). It's unlikely that he will be able to win at the Australian Open when he's playing in his first major tournament since recovering from injury.
Nadal's return to tennis will make the sport so much more exciting, but don't expect him to win more than one Grand Slam singles title in 2013.