Doha – Rafael Nadal will end his six-month, injury-enforced absence from tennis by playing back-to-back tournaments in the Gulf before launching his assault on the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old Spaniard hasn't played since his shock second-round defeat against Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.
He was then diagnosed as suffering with Hoffa syndrome, an inflammation of the fatty tissue in his left knee, a problem that has sidelined him several times over the years.
French Open champion Nadal was unable to defend his Olympic title, missed the US Open, the ATP World Tour Finals and also Spain's defeat to the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final.
Nadal will play alongside Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in a three-day exhibition in Abu Dhabi from Dec 27-29 before taking top seeding at the Qatar Open in Doha which begins on December 31.
“Nadal is returning to competitive tennis since his knee injury at Wimbledon so everyone is looking forward to seeing what he brings,” Qatar Open tournament director Karim Alami told The Peninsula newspaper.
Nadal, whose ranking has slipped to fourth in the world returned to training at his Mallorca base this week.
“Today was my first training session after so many weeks out,” the Spaniard said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
“I am making progress and I hope to continue to do so.” – Sapa-AFP