Rafael Nadal will be challenged by the Mubadala World Tennis Championship’s other previous winners, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, at this year’s event. Image Credit: Courtesy:Mubadala

Abu Dhabi: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will make a long-awaited return to Abu Dhabi next week and is keen to make up for missing out on last year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

After a 2012 season plagued with injury, Nadal spent this year proving the doubters wrong as he made a stunning return to form, taking home a record-breaking eighth French Open title, vanquishing Novak Djokovic in the US Open final, and returning to the world No. 1 ranking in October.

He missed last year’s Abu Dhabi event due to his serious knee injury, but will return to centre court at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City as top seed on day two of the three-day tournament on December 27.

“The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has been a very important part of my season preparations since the very first tournament back in January 2009 and I was very disappointed to have missed out on coming last year,” the Spaniard said.

“If you had told me this time one year ago that I would be coming back to Abu Dhabi as world No. 1, French and US Open champion, I would not have believed it. But right now I’m just focusing on the future and looking forward to kicking off the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi.”

A stalwart of the tournament, which is now in its sixth year, Nadal boasts two Mubadala World Tennis Championship titles.

Vying for a chance to battle it out against the best player in the world will be world No. 3 David Ferrer and Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka, who will spark a thrilling weekend of tennis at 5pm on December 26.

Should Nadal progress to the final, UAE fans could be treated to a grudge match against world No. 2 Djokovic, depending on the Serb’s semi-final result against either Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tennis’s top two players have enjoyed a fierce rivalry this season, which sees their head-to-head record level at three apiece.

“Every time I play, I give 100 per cent to try and win, and it will be no different in Abu Dhabi. I’m certainly hoping it will be third time lucky for me there and I hope all the fans will get behind me like they have done before,” Nadal added.

This year will see all three of the tournament’s previous champions battling for glory, with reigning champion Djokovic, Nadal and inaugural victor Murray all in action across the weekend.

The addition of a fifth/sixth place play-off to the tournament schedule for 2013 means that all six of the stellar line-up will play on the same day, December 27.

The December 26-28 tournament offers a winner-takes-all prize fund of $250,000 (Dh918,173).

Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.ae and selected Virgin Megastores, with prices starting from Dh50 for children and Dh100 for adults. Ticket bookings may also be made by calling 800 TM UAE (800 86 823).