The latest statement, as reported by ATPworldtour.com, mentions that Rafael Nadal will not return for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha and the Australian Open. This means that his comeback is delayed further—this time by a stomach virus.
Rafael Nadal has not played since last June, and it is still not sure when he will actually return, though there are many indications that it will be sooner than later.
As of now, the date of Nadal's return will be 25th February for the Abierto Mexicano Telcel event in Mexico.
Meanwhile, David Ferrer had a great 2012, winning seven titles and compiling an overall record of 76-15.
At the start of the year, David Ferrer stands at No. 5 with 6,505 points while Rafael Nadal is one step higher at 6,690 points (difference of 185 points between the two).
David Ferrer starts in Doha this week but has already sounded out that it will be difficult to replicate his form in 2013 also.
Richard Gasquet and Philipp Kohlschreiber are the main rivals whom David Ferrer will face this week. There is no one else whom David Ferrer should be wary of in the rest of the lineup at Doha.
The Doha event is an ATP World Tour 250 event. If David Ferrer reaches the final, he will be able to reduce the point deficit with Rafael Nadal to 35.
Better still, if David Ferrer can win the tournament (considering that he is the top seed at Doha), he can move past Rafael Nadal in the first tournament of the year.
If not, it is possible that David Ferrer will play one more tournament (most likely in Australia) before the Australian Open starts.
Only a terrible start by David Ferrer in 2013 (meaning a first-round exit in all tournaments till the clay-court event in late February) will prevent him from taking over the No. 4 spot from Rafael Nadal.