Former world number one Rafael Nadal returned to the training courts on Tuesday for the first time since a knee injury forced the Spaniard to withdraw from the US Open at the end of August. The 11-times grand slam winner last played a match at Wimbledon in June when he suffered a shock second round defeat to Czech Lukas Rosol. Nadal has been plagued with knee problems since bursting onto the tennis stage 11 years ago. His latest injury was diagnosed as a partial tear of the patella tendon and an inflammation of the Hoffa’s fat pad in his left knee. However, the 26-year-old king of clay admitted he is pleased with his recovery. “Every day is better otherwise I wouldn’t be on the court. The images say the evolution has been favourable and that is reason for satisfaction after many months of working and waiting,” said Nadal. The current world number four, who also missed the season-ending Tour Finals and Spain’s Davis Cup final defeat to Czech Republic at the weekend – hopes to be back to full fitness in time for the first grand slam of the 2013 season – the Australian Open in January.