Rafael Nadal Resumes Practice After 5-Month Injury Break

Rafael Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam tennis champion, has resumed training after being sidelined by injury since June.

“Today my first tennis practice after all these weeks,” Nadal said on his Facebook page. “Getting better and hope to continue with the positive trend,” he added. He was pictured in an indoor court with his uncle and long-time coach, Toni Nadal.

The 26-year-old Spaniard is practicing today for the first time since August in his home town of Manacor on the island of Mallorca, his publicist Benito Perez-Barbadillo said in an e-mail.

Nadal, who’s dropped two spots to No. 4 on the ATP World Tour rankings, has committed to playing an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi in Dec. 27-29. It’s a warm-up for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 14 in Melbourne.

After winning a men’s record seventh French Open, Nadal was upset in the second round of Wimbledon by then 100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol in June. His earliest exit in one of the four majors turned out to be his last match of the season.

After Wimbledon, Nadal initially tried to get ready to defend his Olympic gold medal at the London Olympics in August. A week after his defeat to Rosol, he said he was suffering from tendinitis in one of his knees and that doctors told him to rest for two weeks. In July 19, he withdrew from the London Games, saying he wasn’t fit enough to compete and that it was “one of the saddest moments” of his career.

Until today, he hadn’t struck a tennis ball since pulling out of the U.S. Open on Aug. 15, Perez-Barbadillo said.

Missed Tour Finals

Nadal, who won the title in New York in 2010, announced on his website on Sept. 3 that he’d miss at least two months after he was diagnosed with a partial tear of a patella tendon as well as knee inflammation. While Nadal rehabilitated in the swimming pool at his home, he also pulled out of the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London on Nov. 5-12 and the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic last weekend.

Although 2012 marks Nadal’s longest injury-related lay-off, he’s frequently been sidelined with physical ailments. He missed defending his Wimbledon title in 2009 because of tendinitis, and has also struggled with a shoulder injury and a recurring stress fracture in a foot.