On Feb. 11, the tennis world will get one of its most beloved and admired stars back on the court.
According to the Associated Press (via NBC Sports), Rafael Nadal will compete in the 2013 Brazilian Open, which will be the first time he's competed since injuring his left knee at Wimbledon.
Rafa was originally set to return at the Abu Dhabi exhibition and then compete in the 2013 Australian Open, but a stomach virus forced him out of action.
With the Spaniard nursing severe tendinitis in his knee over the course of the past five months, Nadal needs to be cautious in his return to the game that elevated him to fame.
While he undoubtedly picked a great time to come back—Nadal won the Brazilian Open in 2005 and the tournament will be played on a clay court, which will be easier on his knee—the 26-year-old has to be weary of playing on hard-surfaced courts in the tournaments following the Brazilian Open.
We all know of Rafa's dominance on the clay, but it'll be interesting to see how he fares when his knee has the unfortunate pleasure of meeting the hard surface.
There's no reason to doubt that Nadal will bounce back from this setback and retain his dominance over the tennis world, but he needs to be careful with a tender knee.
Being fairly young, Rafa still has a bright future ahead of him in the tennis world and can't afford to sustain another serious injury because he returned to action too soon.
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have enjoyed their time without having to contend with Nadal, but that time will come to an end in mid-February.
As long as Nadal eases his way back in and maybe holds out of some hard-surfaced tournaments, all signs point to Rafa returning to his dominant self in 2013.
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