Abu Dhabi: Eleven-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has set his sights on claiming a third Mubadala World Tennis Championship title when he returns to action in Abu Dhabi from December 27-29.
The Spanish former world No 1 will compete for the first time since this year’s Wimbledon Championship as part of an incredible weekend of tennis in the capital alongside defending champion and world No 1 Novak Djokovic, reigning US Open Champion and world No 3 Andy Murray, world No 5 David Ferrer, world No 6 Tomas Berdych and world No 9 Janko Tipsarevic.
A sell-out crowd is expected at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex on Friday, December 28 to witness one of the biggest stories in world sport as Nadal takes to centre court following his injury-enforced absence from the game. The long-awaited return of the world No 4 will see Nadal line up against the winner of the opening match of the tournament between Olympic champion Murray and Tipsarevic.
Nadal said: “After this long period away from competition, with all these months of rehabilitation and now hard practice, I am excited to see the moment to play again is close. Every time I play, I give 100 per cent and try to win, and it will be no different in Abu Dhabi. Obviously coming back from injury will be tough, but the Mubadala World Tennis Championship is exactly the test I need for my game and my fitness. I can’t wait to get back on centre court.”
If the opening match of the championship goes in favour of world rankings, fans can expect a classic of the modern era as a fiercely competitive Nadal attempts to come back with a win against Murray. The pair have met only once in the Abu Dhabi tournament, in the 2009 final, which was won by the Scot.
“Abu Dhabi has been the perfect place to begin the year, so I can’t wait to get back there,” Nadal said. “Being in a tournament setting while getting match fitness against some tough competition in good weather can only help me move forward as I look at the rest of the season. I’ve missed playing and I’ve missed the fans, but I know I’ll get a really warm welcome in Abu Dhabi.”
Should he progress beyond the semi-finals, the Spaniard’s opponent in the final could be Djokovic, one his greatest rivals.
Prior to injury in 2012, Nadal had once again written himself into the history books and confirmed his status as one of the greatest players to have ever played the game after beating Bjorn Borg’s record of seven French Open titles with a ruthless win against the Serb.
This year, the renowned lively atmosphere and explosive performances will start at 5pm on Thursday, December 27 for the first time in the tournament’s history. The opening match has been scheduled for later to suit fans coming straight from work and wanting to catch Murray in action against Tipsarevic. Day two sees the entry of world No 1 Djokovic, who will play the winner of the Ferrer-Berdych match in the first semi-final at 3pm, with Nadal taking on Murray or Tipsarevic in the second semi-final immediately afterwards.
The final day on Saturday, December 29 will start with the 3rd/4th place play-off at 3pm, with the final at 5pm.
In addition to the world-class tennis on show, the championship is packed with off-court action for all the family. From 12pm on day one, players will be holding coaching clinics before signing autographs in the afternoon, as well as a special kids’ question time session in the Tennis Village. The village opens at 10.30am and entry, meeting the stars and soaking up the tennis atmosphere, are all free.
This year’s tournament also gives the entire family the opportunity to enjoy the winter sun and the open greenery of the picnic area. Its prime location in front of the Radio 2 stage and right next to all the action means the entertainment comes to you.
tickets are selling very quickly, with three-day packages already completely sold out and limited availability remaining for day tickets. Those still to secure their place at the tournament are urged to book now to avoid disappointment.
Tickets are available at www.thinkflash.ae, or call 800 FLASH (35274).
For more information, please visit www.mubadalawtc.com.