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Nadal to use Indian Wells as hardcourt test case

NEW YORK, March 5 (BSS/AFP) - Rafael Nadal will use the upcoming ATP event at Indian Wells to test his left knee on hardcourts with hopes he can return to the same competition schedule he enjoyed before his recent seven- month layoff.

Since returning from his injury last month, the 11-time
Grand Slam champion Nadal has won 12 of 13 matches in a South
American clay-court swing, finishing runner-up in Vina del Mar,
Chile, before taking titles in Sao Paulo and at the Mexican Open.

"Today I know I can play on clay. I will try next week on
the hard," Nadal said. "Playing tennis will be a process to adapt
my knee to the competition.

"I hope I will keep having the chances to play the normal
calendar as I did in past years.

"I cannot predict the future. I have to see how the knee
will last at Indian Wells next week. Having the chance to play at
Indian Wells is great. I didn't know one week ago if I would be
able to play at Indian Wells."

After Indian Wells, Nadal could play at a hardcourt event
later this month at Miami, then switch to clay ahead of the
French Open and grass for Wimbledon before facing hardcourts
again in the run-up to the US Open.

Nadal tried out his knee on the hardcourts Monday night,
playing an exhibition match against Argentina's Juan Martin Del
Potro at New York's Madison Square Garden.

After two sets of hard-serving, steady rallies and the
occasional moment of light-hearted fun, Nadal said he was ready
to go.

"I am very happy," Nadal said. "It was a sad moment when I
had to decide not come to the US Open. It seems like now
everything is great."

Del Potro, who won the 90-minute match 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, said
he was surprised at how quickly Nadal has returned to winning

He predicted it won't be long before the left-handed
Spaniard is challenging for another Grand Slam title.

"It is a good thing for everybody that Rafa is back," Del
Potro said. "It is amazing how great he is playing. He is going
to be fighting for No. 1 very soon."