In a wide-ranging interview with a Spanish television station, the injured star stated that his knee might not be ready for his anticipated return to tennis next week in Montreal.
"I have to wait and see how I continue to recover because I've only been back training for a week and a half and you always feel a bit better anemically. You start with lots of hope, but again, the real test would be to see how I go when I really push my knees and I think that is likely to happen in the upcoming days. So I hope it's all good."
Nadal is always a pretty modest fellow and he's been downplaying expectations for his return ever since he left the tour in May to recover from knee tendinitis. But the fact that hopes its all good rather than knows its all good is concerning. (This isn't just parsing his phrasing, mind you. He says similar things throughout the interview.)
When Nadal does return, we can expect to see less of him than before. He acknowledged that playing so much in between the Australian and French (particularly in Madrid) added to the stress on his knees and eventually forced him out of Wimbledon. Although it doesn't seem to be in his DNA to take it easy (he even goes hard in his rehab), perhaps Nadal will lighten his load next year and focus on the Grand Slams. If it works for Tiger, why not Rafa?
But a restful Nadal is a contradiction in terms. Part of what makes him so great is his work ethic. Can he be the same tennis player if he's not playing as much? Hopefully his knees will be good enough so we can find out in Montreal.