Rafael Nadal may be able to start on the clay courts sooner than expected, with the Spaniard dropping the hint to his sponsor during half-time at a weekend Spanish League football match.

The 37-year-old who pulled out of this week’s Monte Carlo Masters as month of injury dramas drag on, told Movistar:

“I don’t rule out anything, neither being in Barcelona next week, nor being in Madrid. 

“I couldn’t be in Monte Carlo, never mind. It’s true that I can’t do it at the moment due to some small problems I have.”

And the 22-time Grand Slam winner revealed: “Many people have mental problems, me too.

“Obviously I have them when I can’t fight for my goals: I’ve had an abdominal problem for two months, since I returned from Australia. 

“I recovered quickly from that injury, then, one day, while training, I started having abdominal discomfort that progressed little by little. 

“I wasn’t able to recover well and we are trying very carefully, this is the truth.”

Should he front up for his home event of Barcelona a week from Monday, it would mark the first time since a quarter-final loss on January 5 in Brisbane.

Nadal owns a record dozen trophies in a main stadium named in his honour at the Real Club de Tenis in the Catalan capital.