Rafael Nadal is set to play at the Mexican Open in February, although the fourth-ranked Spaniard remains intent on returning before the Australian Open.
The clay-court Mexican Open is scheduled for Feb. 25-March 2.
Toni Nadal, the player's trainer and uncle, said Nadal was focused on returning in time for an exhibition at the end of the year in Abu Dhabi as part of his preparations for the Australian Open in January.
''Just because his first confirmed event is in Acapulco does not mean he is not focusing on returning beforehand,'' Nadal told The Associated Press by telephone on Friday. ''He plans to return this year with Australia his priority at this point.''
Nadal has been sidelined with a left knee injury since a second-round loss at Wimbledon in June. He has said it was unlikely he could play for Spain in the Davis Cup final in the Czech Republic next month.
The 26-year-old has said he will likely play more clay events as his weak knees are troubled by hard-courts.