By the Australian Open, Nadal would have been out with an injury for more than 6 months.
According to ATP rules, any player who has a recognised injury absence of between 6 months and one year will have a preserved ranking based on his average ranking over the first three months of his injury absence. This preserved ranking will last for his first 9 tournaments.
Nadal's average ranking in his first three months of absence is 3, so he wil likely be ranked 3 for his first 9 tournaments back after injury.
Wrong. He will have a preserved ranking to get qualification for an event. So if it was an event for which only four plays could qualify, he would get in ahead of Ferrer. For seeding on the other hand, protected ranking does not help if I'm correct.