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Santiago – Rafael Nadal, out of action since the middle of last season because of injury, will now make his return at next month's ATP claycourt event in Vina del Mar, Chile, a week earlier than expected, he revealed on Thursday.
Nadal's camp had announced on Tuesday that the Spaniard would make his long-awaited comeback at the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, scheduled February 11-17.
But the seven-times French Open champion said Thursday he would in fact return to action in Chile on February 4.
“I am pleased to confirm my participation at the Vina del Mar tournament in Chile,” Nadal posted on his Facebook page.
“I would like to thank the tournament organisers for the invitation and to say that I have many fans in (Chile), I can finally meet them in person and play my first tournament since my injury which has kept me out for so long,” he added.
Spanish tennis federation doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro said on Wednesday that Nadal was in the final stages of his recovery and that his comeback plans were proceeding according to plan.
The Vina del Mar tournament organisers confirmed Nadal's participation in the coastal city tournament.
“Now completely recovered, he is looking to playing on his favourite surface to add games, rhythm and confidence, on the South American part of the tour, which begins with the VTR Open ATP Chile,” it read.
The Vina del Mar event, situated 120 kilometres west of the Chilean capital city Santiago, runs from February 4-10 and will also feature Juan Monaco, Carlos Berlocq, Pablo Andujar, Albert Ramos and Santiago Giraldo.
Nadal, currently ranked four in the world, has won 11 Grand Slam titles but injuries have dogged him and the 26-year-old Spaniard hasn't played since June, missing the Olympics, US Open and the Davis Cup final.
He also had to skip the ongoing Australian Open because of a stomach virus while a succession of knee injuries have plagued his career. – Sapa-AFP