ABU DHABI // Novak Djokovic, the men's world No 1, will close out a stellar year by making his first appearance at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open grand slam titles this year, has become the dominant force this year, with the Serbian only losing three matches and winning 68.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are also among the six entrants from the top 10 players on the ATP Tour who will compete for the winner-takes-all US$250,000 (Dh918,300) prize, with Nadal, the Spanish world No 2 and Federer the Swiss world No 4, returning to Abu Dhabi for the fourth time in the fourth instalment to be played at the Zayed Sports City on December 29-31.
Rafael Nadal is relishing his return to the tournament, which he has won the previous two editions beating Robin Soderling in 2010 and then Roger Federer at the start of this year..
"Having seen the strength of the field, I'm already looking forward to a serious test and defending my title," Nadal said. "I know I'll need to be at my best, so it's exactly the preparation I need ahead of the Australian Open."
David Ferrer, the Spanish world No 5, Jo-Winifed Tsonga, the French world No 9 are returning for the second time, while Gael Monfils, 10th in the rankings, will make his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.
Federer said appearing in Abu Dhabi gets better and better each year, especially off-court work, where the players conduct a tennis clinic for the winner of the Mubadala Community Cup — a competition set up to help tennis in the emirates grow at grassroots level.
"The city's genuine commitment to support the growth of tennis in the region is exciting and the opportunity to work with junior players makes it personally rewarding to play here as part of this celebration of tennis," Federer said.
"Abu Dhabi is a place I always look forward to returning to as I have always had a wonderful time."
Originally called the Capitala World Tennis Championship, the tournament is a not part of the ATP Tour, and is based on a knock-out format over three days.
The top two players receive a bye to the semi-finals and will play the winner of first round of matches.
Andy Murray, the Briton, won the first edition in 2009, beating Nadal in three sets.