Rafa Nadal is gearing up to make his debut in this year's Indian Wells Masters - the tournament he won in 2007 and 2009. Ahead of the event, Nadal reflected on what has been a difficult past 12 months, the toughest part for him was missing out on the summer Olympic Games in London.
"The toughest part for me was not being able to go to the Olympics. When I made my decision, I had no alternative open to me. That was tough. . I couldn't carry the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony to represent all of our sportsmen and women, those competing in the Games", Nadal told EFE.
"That was a very sad time for me. Those kinds of opportunities don't come around very often - maybe just once in a lifetime. And I missed out. But I have to stay positive, keep working hard and hopefully, I will be at Rio 2016", he continued.
A ruptured tendon in his left knee kept Nadal away from the tennis court from June last year until February this year.
"It's not easy when you aren't able to do what you love doing. I am a competitive person - I know that my career won't last for my whole life, but I never once thought that I wouldn't return to the game. It's not easy to be sidelined from tennis for seven months. Tennis is such an important part of my life", admitted Nadal, the fifth-ranked player in the world.
"I spent most of that time training in the gym and working on my recovery. I was able to play golf, go fishing, spend time with my family and go out with my friends a little more that I used to," he continued. "I feel really good now but I understand my situation after spending the past seven months out of the game. It's not the ideal moment for me to talk about my knee. I have come here simply to do the best I can and we will see how my knee responds. The results of the tests carried out were positive as my knee seems to be improving every week".
In California, Nadal opens his tournament against North American Ryan Harrison, who beat Japan's Go Soeda in the opening round. Should he progress, he could face Roger Federer in the fourth round of the event.