Doha – Tournament officials at two events in the Gulf hope to be counting on the drawing power of Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard makes an expected return to tennis at a post-Christmas Abu Dhabi exhibition followed by the ATP Doha tournament.
Doha tournament director Karim Alami, a former ATP player, told The Peninsula newspaper: “Nadal is returning to competitive tennis since his knee injury at Wimbledon so everyone is looking forward to seeing what he brings.”
The ATP season-opening Doha event is proceeded by invitation-only Abu Dhabi, with world No 1 Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Andy Murray participating. Roger Federer is skipping the Middle East events in the run-up to the January 14 start of the Australian Open.
Nadal is due to be testing his fragile left knee after not playing for six months, following his last appearance with a second-round Wimbledon loss in late June.
He began training this week, with a brief session in front of television cameras at an indoor court on his home island of Majorca and pronounced himself on the road to full recovery.
Nadal, down to fourth in the world, would be top seed in Doha, which begins December 31 in a field which also includes fellow Spaniard David Ferrer and Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet. – Sapa-dpa