The 26-year-old had to drop out of competition because of chronic knee injuries after losing in the Wimbledon second round on June 28, and has not played in a tournament since.
The 11-time major winner gave few specifics and was far from sure about the state of his performance at the opening grand slam of the year, which begins on January 14, News.com.au reports.
“I'd like to return in January, but I'm not expecting to win the Open. In the first events back, I won't worry about the results,” he said.
According to the report, Nadal did not mention reports that he is signed for the rich Abu Dhabi exhibition from December 27, which would - if he plays - be his first match in six months.
Nadal said that if he drops to even 15th in the rankings, that would not be a worry, the report said.
He did hint at a goal, though, saying he wanted to be fit by the time he plays in Monte Carlo on his beloved clay, the event that starts the run-up to Roland Garros, which he won for a record seventh time in June, it added.