Rafa Nadal: Abu Dhabi comeback ‘for me is really important’
Rafael Nadal is as adamant as ever he will celebrate the new year with his post-surgery return to competitive tennis at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, organisers of the elite, six-man tournament announced on Tuesday.
“It’s unfortunate that I had to miss the end of this season, but the time off will allow me to become even more focused on what I want to accomplish in 2015,” Nadal said after a recent training session, according to tournament officials.
“I have missed a couple of opportunities to play big, competitive matches now so playing in Abu Dhabi in January for me is really important.”
In addition to Nadal, the world No 3, the Abu Dhabi tournament includes world No 1 Novak Djokovic, Australian Open champion and world No 4 Stan Wawrinka, No 6 Andy Murray and the French duo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.
Nadal, 28, had surgery to remove his appendix in the first week of November, less than two weeks after he called a halt to his 2014 season.
He also was troubled by back pain for much of the season, and a wrist injury sidelined him for more than a month after Wimbledon.
He played in only three tournaments after the All-England tournament and failed to get past the quarter-finals in any of them, finally giving in to the inflamed appendix after a 6-2, 7-6 final-eight defeat to 17-year-old Borna Coric at the Swiss Indoors Basel on October 24.
Despite his 2014 physical troubles, Nadal won the French Open in May, becoming the first player to win at least one grand slam for 10 consecutive years.
His appearance in Abu Dhabi will be his sixth. He won the tournament in 2009 and 2011.
“I’ve got history here, which makes the event even more special to me,” he said. “The crowd is always full of energy, which makes us want to play even better, and with this type of competition format we have to be on our game the entire three days.”
It is expected Nadal will be seeded into the semi-finals, on the opposite side of the bracket from Djokovic, but tournament organisers have not yet revealed match-ups.
The tournament is played at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City and begins on January 1, with two quarter-final matches, and continues with semi-finals on January 2. The final is on January 3.
Tickets for the event are on sale at wwwticketmaster.ae and at Virgin Megastore outlets in the UAE or by calling 800 86 823.
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Updated: November 18, 2014 04:00 AM