After months of rehabilitation from a left knee injury, it appears that Rafael Nadal is closing in on a return to competitive tennis.

The 26-year-old has been sidelined since a shock defeat to Czech Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon back in June, but returned to the practice court on Tuesday. He hopes to be at full fitness for the 2013 Australian Open, which begins in January.

Nadal, who is currently ranked No. 4, has been inactive on several occasions due to knee problems. The 11-time Grand Slam champion is hitting on a hard court in his hometown of Manacor under the guidance of his uncle and coach Toni Nadal and a physiotherapist.

"Every day is better otherwise I wouldn't be on the court," Nadal said, according to Reuters.

"The images say the evolution has been favorable and that is reason for satisfaction after many months of working and waiting.

"It is now another phase where I´m starting little by little and going day by day with patience to find the right moment when all is well and my body will be ready to compete and when my knee is ready."