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It is nearly six months since Rafa Nadal last played a competitive match - a second-round exit at Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol. Clive Rose / Getty Images
It is nearly six months since Rafa Nadal last played a competitive match - a second-round exit at Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Rafael Nadal confirms he will play at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The Spaniard, winner of the tournament in 2010 and 2011, says he will be in Abu Dhabi for his semi-final match on December 28.

Rafa's return will commence in Abu Dhabi.

The former world No 1 Rafael Nadal, sidelined by a knee injury since a second-round loss at Wimbledon in June, confirmed via social media yesterday that he will begin his comeback at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in two weeks' time.

"Can't wait to get back on court in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month," Nadal posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"I won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in 2010 and 2011 - would love to get my hands on the trophy again this year!"

Organisers have said all along they expected the Spaniard to play in the elite, three-day, six-player Abu Dhabi event, but Nadal had cast doubt on the pace of his recovery.

Last week, he told Spanish radio he might not be able to play in time for the Australian Open, in January, and hoped to be at full strength for the French Open, in May.

His return on December 28, in the semi-finals at the International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City, will mark six months to the day since he lost to Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon, his most recent match.

Nadal, ranked No 4 in the world, will play the winner of the previous day's match between Andy Murray and Janko Tipsarevich. Murray, the world No 3, has played Nadal once before in Abu Dhabi, in 2009, when he defeated him to win the first championship here.

Novak Djokovic, the current world No 1, also has been seeded into the semi-finals and will play December 28 against the winner of the previous day's match between David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, ranked Nos 5 and 6, respectively.

After his surprising loss to Rosol, a lightly regarded Czech, Nadal was found to have a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his left knee, and doctors later diagnosed Hoffa's syndrome, an inflammation of the fatty tissue, in the same joint.

He elected not to have surgery, and resumed training in November.

The 11-time grand slam champion in September complained that the ATP has too many events on hard courts. The Mubadala Tennis Championship is played on a hard court.

"I can't pretend not to play on hard courts when two of the Slams are on hard courts, but there is a mistake with our game," Nadal told The Daily Mail.

"You don't watch footballers playing on a hard surface, or basketball players, those sports with rapid movements. It's not going to change for me and my generation. Hard courts are very negative for the body. I know the sport is a business and creating these courts is easier than clay or grass, but I am 100 per cent sure it is wrong. I may have to play more on clay than before, but there aren't that many options."

The 2012 edition of the Mubadala tournament boasts five of the world's top six players, the exception being Roger Federer, as well as Tipsarevich, who is ranked No 9.

 

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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