Nadal replaced by Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi's Mubadala draw

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Rafael Nadal has been replaced in Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) draw by Roberto Bautista Agut, who made the announcement on Twitter on Friday night.

Earlier in the day, Spanish daily, Marca, had reported that Nadal was pulling out of the Abu Dhabi showpiece as he continues to recover from a right knee injury that disrupted the tail-end of his 2017 season, forcing him to withdraw from the remainder of the ATP Finals in London after playing the opening match against David Goffin last month.

Before the tournament officially announced the change in the line-up, Spaniard Bautista Agut took to social media to share the news.

“Great news for me to share with you that I will compete in the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. A great way to start the season. I hope that Rafa gets well soon!” said Bautista Agut.

Nadal reportedly cancelled a training stint with Portugal’s Joao Sousa at his academy in Mallorca that was meant to take place from December 18-22. According to Marca, the world No. 1 consulted with his doctor in Barcelona last Monday and is in a race against time to be ready for his official 2018 start in Brisbane, which kicks off on December 31.

“I am very sorry and disappointed to announce that I won’t be competing this year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” Nadal said in a statement released by MWTC. ”This would have been my ninth participation in the tournament where I love to play and marking the beginning of my season.

“It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready. For this reason, I have sadly announced to the organisers and now to you fans that I won’t play this time in Abu Dhabi. I really want to thank them for understanding and I am sending a special warm message to my fans in the UAE and in Abu Dhabi in particular.”

Following the withdrawal of Nadal, as well as Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic, the tournament in Abu Dhabi (December 28-30) will now feature Novak Djokovic, who has already landed in Dubai, Dominic Thiem, Pablo Carreno Busta, Kevin Anderson, Bautista Agut, and Andrey Rublev.

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Spanish media reports Nadal has pulled out of Abu Dhabi

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Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) in Abu Dhabi according to Marca.

The Spanish publication is reporting that the world number one is still experiencing some discomfort in his right knee, which forced him to pull out of the remainder of the ATP Finals after playing the first match against David Goffin last month.

Also according to Marca, the 31-year-old had cancelled his training week with Portugal’s Joao Sousa at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca that was scheduled for December 18-22.

The Spaniard’s withdrawal is yet another blow for the tournament after Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka pulled out earlier this week. They have been replaced by Andrey Rublev and Kevin Anderson.

The MWTC is yet to confirm Nadal’s withdrawal and a replacement hasn’t been revealed.

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Djokovic aims to make winning return in Abu Dhabi

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Hungry to return to the court: Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic is aiming to mark his comeback with a win at the 10th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

It will be the Serbian superstar’s fifth visit to Abu Dhabi having previously won the tournament on three occasions.

Tennis fans will get to see Djokovic in action on day two when he plays the winner of the match between Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic.

The 30-year-old 12-time major winner has expressed how keen he is to return to action, having been sidelined since late July.

“It is always an honour to play in Abu Dhabi and I can’t wait to get back on court again. This tournament will offer me the perfect opportunity to start my preparation for the Australian Open,” the former world number one said.

Djokovic hasn’t played tennis since July.

Djokovic will be hoping to kick-off the new season and his comeback with a win in what is another competitive Mubadala field, also including Rafa Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Pablo Carreno Busta.

The tournament will run from December 28 to 30 at the International Tennis Center at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

As always, in the unique ‘winner takes all’ format of the MWTC, the victor will claim $250,000 in prize money.

Tickets to the Championship are currently on sale for the general public at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE. For more information, visit www.mubadalawtc.com.

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