World number one Rafael Nadal has stressed how important the Mubadala World Tennis Championship is to his preparation for the new season as he looks to build on a remarkable 2013.
Nadal was part of the original line-up for last year’s event in Abu Dhabi only to withdraw due to injury. However, the superstar Spaniard will be back in the UAE capital next week where he will kick-start his season alongside a host of top players, including rival and world No2 Novak Djokovic.
Nadal’s arrival in Abu Dhabi will be against a starkly different back-drop to 12 months ago. Then, he had endured an injury-plagued 2012 and doubts were raised regarding his long-term tennis future, but this year proved to be a quite spectacular season for the 27-year-old.
After fighting back from his time on the sidelines, Nadal claimed 10 titles from 14 finals, including a landmark eighth French Open, a second US Open which took his career majors tally to 13, and a record 26th Masters.
He ended the season with 75 wins against just seven losses and another $14.5 million banked to take his career earnings past the $60 million mark. Inevitably, this remarkable run of form saw Nadal reclaim the world No1 ranking spot for the first time since June 2011.
“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,” Nadal said.
“If you had told me this time one year ago that I would be coming back to Abu Dhabi as world number one, 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, Nadal is the only player to have confirmed his attendance in the capital each of the six years of its history and boasts two Mubadala World Tennis Championship titles.
Vying for their chance to battle it out against the best player in the world will be world number three, David Ferrer, and Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka who face off on December 26.
Should Nadal progress to the final, fans could be treated to the ultimate tennis showdown should Djokovic also make it through his half of the draw.
The top duo have enjoyed a fierce rivalry this season which sees their head-to-head record set at three apiece. It will be all to play for in the potential final with each star looking to take home his third Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown.
“Every time I play, I give 100 percent to try and win and it will be no different in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal added. “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.”
This year will see all three of the tournament’s previous champions battling for glory with reigning champion Djokovic, Nadal and inaugural victor Andy Murray all in action across the weekend.
The addition of a fifth/sixth place play off to the tournament schedule for 2013 means that for the first time ever in the tournament’s history, all six of the stellar line-up will play on the same day, December 27th.
The annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship takes place from 26th to 28th December 2013 at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex, Zayed Sports City.
For fans that don’t want to miss out on the tournament’s strongest line-up yet, tickets are on sale from www.ticketmaster.ae and in selected Virgin Megastores, or call 800 TM UAE (800 86 823) with prices starting from AED 50 for children and AED 100 for adults.