Basel, Switzerland: Rafael Nadal admitted Sunday he's feeling "scared" over his first appearance in a decade at the Swiss Indoors tournament with the shadow of unavoidable appendix surgery hovering over the great Spaniard.
Nadal, who last played in Basel in 2004 and stands 0-2 in the hometown of top seed and longtime rival Roger Federer, starts the tournament on Monday against Italian qualifier, Simone Bolelli. (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal Tackle Two Extremes in Basel)
The 28-year-old, nine-time French Open champion has been on a regime of antibiotics which will hopefully help him postpone the appendectomy surgery for a few more weeks.
"It's going to be one of the most dangerous first rounds in a 500 tournament that I've played in a long time," admitted Nadal after a two-hour hit at the St Jakobshalle on Sunday.
"I am not 100 per cent sure what is going to happen tomorrow. I haven't practised well enough or enough times. My body feels more tired than usual when I'm playing.
"Practising is one thing, competing is another. When you compete you have the adrenaline, the heart goes faster, and I don't know how my body is going to answer.
"I'm a little bit scared about how my body is going to react. Some of my injuries have been after antibiotic treatments. Hopefully that won't be the case this time."
Nadal has been told by doctors that he is safe to play despite the appendix problem which flared during the recent Asian ATP swing.
It is a problem which marks just another in a string of career setbacks for the world number three.
But Nadal remains optimistic, even if he may believe his trophy chances are slim at an event where Federer has won the title five times.
"This week will help to improve my indoor game. I haven't played during this week in the past years, so that's a plus," suggested Nadal. "It will be a tough comeback but I try to stay positive.
"Injuries are part of sports and a big part of my career. I take it day by day. I don't know whether I will be able to play on top when I'm 33 (as Federer is doing). I'm just thinking about tomorrow."
Nadal's only promise given his long-fragile physical state: "I'll try to stay competitive as long as possible. But when it's (his career) over, it's over."
The Spaniard missed much of the summer -- including the defence of his US Open title -- with a wrist injury before playing in Beijing and Shanghai.
He was a quarterfinalist in Beijing but lost first time out to compatriot Feliciano Lopez in Shanghai.
"I try to work with the right intensity and the right mentality to play the best tennis again as soon as possible. What happened, happened," he added.
"The only way to come back to my best level is to work hard and stay healthy. I'm really optimistic that's going to happen again soon."
Nadal characterised his current state as "feeling better". "I had to take a lot of antibiotics for a week and a half. I couldn't really play the match in Shanghai, could only practise one day there. I started playing again last Tuesday. I started slowly and I'm lacking in rhythm.
"It's been a hard comeback for me after the wrist injury. But it's part of sport and part of my career. I accept that and try to be healthy again.
"I have to do the surgery, but let's see how I feel here. I've been practising for three days. I'll try my best and let's see if I can be competitive."