Nadal ready for return

The 28-year-old Spaniard suffered a series of knee, back and wrist injuries throughout the year which culminated in missing the ATP World Finals in November.

Nadal reported on his official Facebook page that he had returned to training on Monday after recovering from surgery on his appendix.??

He told Spanish newspaper AS: “It’s always a bit tough starting off after a few difficult months, without any continuity, and after the last month-and-a-half without being able to play any sport and the appendicitis.

“What I have to do this month is to get myself fit physically, progress my tennis as much as possible and lay the foundations to start well in Abu Dhabi and in Doha.

“Then take advantage of those tournaments to recover the competitiveness that I’ve not had for months due to the injuries.”

Nadal endured an up and down year during 2014, which started with falling short of his bid for a second Australian Open title where he was beaten in the final by Switzerland???s Stan Wawrinka.

The Spaniard then made history at Roland Garros when cemented his reign as the king of clay with a thrilling four-set victory over Novak Djokovic to win his record ninth French Open title.

After struggling with injury following his record-breaking win, the 14-time Grand Slam champion was famously stunned in the fourth round at Wimbledon by teenage sensation Nick Kyrgios before missing the defence of his US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.

Rafa optimistc

Following problems with his appendix, Nadal had to end his season early after undergoing surgery, but he remained optimistic of his recovery and chances ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia.

“If you train well and you feel right physically, the process is much quicker,??? he said. “In a few days you pick up the speed of the ball again, the movement in the legs and, if I do good work at home and I play well at the start of the year, that could be enough to arrive in Australia well prepared.

“What I must do is play well, prepare, and when the moment comes, give myself opportunities. If one of those is in the final rounds, anything could happen.”

Despite Nadal???s troubles throughout the season, the Spaniard is still third in the world rankings and will look to close the gap on??Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – who sit above him – when he returns.

Nadal is likely to make his first start in Abu Dhabi, a tournament where seven-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic will also feature.??

“I think Federer has finished the year very well, the same as Djokovic,??? he said on his two big rivals. ???They??are going start again strongly and I from almost zero, with more problems.

“I have to recover what I’ve lost during the last six months. It’s a nice challenge to overcome and I’m motivated.”