Fourteen-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal on Monday said that his return to action will take place in Abu Dhabi in December after confirming his place at the 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
The season-opening tournament in the UAE capital has long been a favourite of the Spaniard. with the Abu Dhabi crowds treated to his presence seven times since the event began in 2009. Joining the defending champion and three-time winner Nadal at the event are Belgian number one David Goffin and Czech giant Tomas Berdych, it was also announced on Monday.
Already confirmed were the three-time grand slam champion, Andy Murray, French powerhouse Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the big-serving Canadian, Milos Raonic.
Nadal is currently sidelined with injury and will use the Mubadala event, which takes place between December 29 and 31 at Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Stadium, as preparation for January’s Australian Open.
Victory at the Mubadala tournament in January gave the Spanish sensation the springboard he needed after recovering from injury at the end of 2015.
Following his triumph in Abu Dhabi, the former world number one reached the semi-finals or final of the first four ATP World Tour events in the early part of 2016, before winning his first Masters title of the season in Monaco in April.
“I really enjoy the fans, the competition and the atmosphere in the stadium in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said in a release on Monday. “It is the best way to start my season. I’ve enjoyed many years playing in the UAE capital against the other top guys and I’m already looking forward to the next.
“After playing in Abu Dhabi, I went on to play some great matches on the Tour at the start of the year and I’ll be hoping for even better this time.”
After recently winning the Shenzhen Open in China, former world number four Berdych will return to the tournament this year after competing in Abu Dhabi in 2011 and 2012.
He said: “I’m really excited to be competing at this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship. It has become so popular with some of the world’s top players and having experienced the competition twice before in its earlier stages, I can’t wait to get back. For me, this will be the perfect way to start the 2017 season and I’m looking forward to spending my new year playing some serious tennis and meeting fans in Abu Dhabi.”
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Goffin reached his highest ranking of world number 11 this week. He said: “It’s going to be amazing to compete in Abu Dhabi and I am really proud to be selected among such a world-class line-up. I’ve heard great things about the quality of the tournament and I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere and the fans in this part of the world. The competition is going to be very strong and it’s a great time of year to be playing tennis of such a high standard.”
The Mubdala winner will claim $250,000 in prize money after battling it out in the New Year’s Eve final. In addition to the action, fans will be offered off-court activities in the Tennis Village, where they can interact with players via autograph signings and coaching clinics.
Tickets to the 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championship start from Dh50 for Category 2 seating. Exclusive premier hospitality packages are also available, including food and limited beverages, star player meet-and-greets and courtside seating.
Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ticket-holders redeeming their Y1 Access benefits receive a 20 per cent discount on Category 2 tickets. Y1 Access is the money-off advantage programme for 2016 #AbuDhabiGP race ticket-holders and is offered for selected FLASH events until February 2017.
For further information, visit www.yasalam.ae.
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