Rafael Nadal Return: Rafa Will Come Back Better Than Ever at Brazil Open

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJanuary 15, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal isn’t playing at the Australian Open this week, but he could be back on the court within a month if all goes as planned.

The Spanish star has registered for the 2013 Brazil Open, according to an Associated Press report (via NBC Sports). That tournament begins on Feb. 11 in the city of San Paulo.

If he attends, it will be the first time the world’s former No. 1 player returns to competition after suffering a torn patella tendon in his left knee at Wimbledon.

Nadal opted to rest the knee rather than to have surgery to repair the tendon damage.

But that isn’t why he missed the Australian Open. Rafa pegged a stomach virus as the culprit for his opting out of the year’s first major Grand Slam and the other two tournaments he has missed.

Was the virus really that bad, or was he buying some more time in order to come back at 100 percent?

Missing the Australian Open is a big deal, especially for a competitor like Rafa. Last year, he lost a stunning five-plus-hour finals match against Novak Djokovic. You can’t imagine how badly he would like to get back on the court and get the better of Djokovic. This likely means Nadal is playing it safe in order to come back in top form and be competitive.

The added rest time will do nothing but help him do just that.

Competition will likely be minimal in terms of highly-ranked ATP contenders. Although, Nadal hasn’t played for eight months and will have to unseat 2012 champion Nicolas Almagro.

His Spanish compatriot is currently seeded at No. 11 in the men’s ATP singles rankings.  Nadal is at No. 4.

The indoor clay courts will help him as well. There isn’t anyone currently in the sport, or ever perhaps, who has been as dominant as Nadal on clay.

Yes, a well-rested and hungry Nadal is going to give everyone what they’ve been waiting for on Feb. 11.

Well, everyone besides Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, perhaps.

Rafa will come back with a vengeance in San Paulo and storm back onto the tennis landscape win a big comeback win under his belt.