He played the opening round at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week, where he lost to South African Kevin Anderson, and gets his season proper under way in the second round of the Brisbane International on Thursday.
Nadal, the current world number two, has not played a main tour event since a knee problem forced him to retire during his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in September previous year. I feel myself playing at a good level of tennis.
"If I play like I played a year ago, I played so well all the tournaments that I played, and at the end I have a chance, fantastic".
"So I will not (chase) the number one because it's not my main goal".
Nadal said that he would not play in Brisbane because of a left thigh strain, prompting yet more fears over the 32-year-old's long term future in tennis.
Nadal indicated his decision was based on wanting to be healthy for the Australian Open on January 14.
As for the Australian Open, Nadal sees himself in a better position than 12 months ago when he entered the major on the back of just one match in nearly three months due to more knee issues.
"I had a good off season, as I said before". It's a risk to damage my body for one month if I play here'.
"I will probably be 100 percent in five days and then I will have plenty of time to prepare for Melbourne". "But I really believe that I will be 100% ready for Melbourne".
The Spanish star endured a hard 2018, playing just nine tournaments before undergoing ankle surgery in November. "I feel myself ready and always it's tough when you have to go from a tournament, but especially if you feel yourself ready and playing well, and that was the case".