Nadal is currently recovering from a leg injury that forced him out of the Australian Open in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Marin Cilic.
The 31-year-old is confident of completing his rehabilitation in the coming weeks and returning to action on February 26 in Acapulco.
But Nadal, who has endured a series of punishing injuries throughout his career particularly in his knees, knows he cannot push himself forever.
“I am happy playing tennis. When the time comes to say goodbye, I’ll know,” Nadal said at a corporate event for Banco Sabadell.
“I have respect for everything that may happen
“My life has more things than competing at the highest level.”
And Nadal reiterated that his body would stop him from playing as many tournaments as he used to in pursuit of certain goals, such as hanging onto the world No 1 spot.
“I’m not going to do crazy things to keep [the No 1 ranking], now my health is paramount,” Nadal added.
But if Nadal misses his next tournament in Mexico, Roger Federer is guaranteed to overtake him and supplant his great rival atop the rankings.
However, if Nadal does indeed play as planned, then Federer could need to score points at his scheduled tournament for that week, the Dubai Championship, although he is unsure if he will travel to the Middle East.
“We were in talks with the [Dubai organisers] but when the [Australian Open] tournament started, I just said ‘look, if it’s okay, I’d like to decide after the tournament’,” Federer said.
“That’s an ideal scenario for me. After the tournament, I’ll know how I feel… did I come out injured or not?
“So now we know what the situation is.
“It’s possible I’ll play in Dubai but it’s also possible that maybe I just don’t play anything.
“It depends on how the next week or so goes. Then I’ll make a decision.”