Read & Watch: Nadal Returns With 'More Motivation'
Rafael Nadal, the top seed at this week's Rolex Paris Masters, has been away from the ATP World Tour for nearly two months, since 7 September, when he retired during his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro because of tendonitis in his right knee.
But the Spaniard has been busy during his time off. He rehabbed his knee and helped out more frequently at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar.
“I slow down a little bit the intensity of course... I stopped [practising] for a while after the US Open so then I started to practise slowly, step-by-step,” Nadal said. “It's nothing new for me. It's something that happened in my career a couple of times. So more or less we know the process, and we know the thing that works good to us, things that don't work good.”
Most importantly, however, the Spaniard spent some of his time away aiding flood recovery efforts in Mallorca. The devastating rains and flash flooding left at least 13 dead, including a mother and a son, who were the cousins of one of Nadal's best friends.
“I lived the situation from very inside, and I really saw the drama of all these people looking for the kid,” Nadal said. “That's part of this life and is a very unlucky situation... and it's almost impossible to recover from something like this. But in some way, the only thing that we can do is just try to support them, try to help them to recover all the things that they lost. And as I said before, human losses, there's nothing to do.”
“It's great that the people from around the world sent us the support. It's the real thing. All the players know how important Mallorca is to me, and the disaster was just six kilometres away from where I live. So I was at home and the rain never stopped,” Nadal said.
He was hands-on during the recovery efforts. He opened up his academy to victims of the floods and helped clear mud from a workshop.
Read More: Rafa Aids Flood Victims
This week, though, Nadal will try to turn his attention to tennis, and more specifically, holding onto the top spot in the ATP Rankings. Whoever advances further this week between Nadal and Djokovic will be No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 5 November. If Nadal and Djokovic lose in the same round, the Spaniard will remain World No. 1.
Watch: Nadal Discusses Djokovic's Comeback
Also on the line potentially this week for Nadal is his all-time Masters 1000 title record of 33. Djokovic has 32.
“I am happy to be here. I am having better feelings on court. I am practising a little bit more every day... This city is so special for me. So that's little bit more motivation to be here,” Nadal said. “I am not thinking about big improvements or big things. I am just thinking about small improvements, and that's the goal.”