Rafael Nadal to join Emma Raducanu at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

Spanish 20-time major winner returns to the capital as the record and defending champion

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Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal is the latest big name confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC), organisers said on Thursday.

Nadal, 35, is a frequent visitor to the pre-season tournament in Abu Dhabi, having played in 10 of the past 12 editions. He returns to the capital as the defending and record five-time champion after his victory over Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2019 final.

“Abu Dhabi is a special place for me, a place where I have been many times and where I started my seasons many times.” said the Nadal, who has returned to full training following foot injury that has kept him away from the courts for months.

“Ever since I first came to Abu Dhabi, I’ve had a great response from the fans and I am sure the atmosphere is going to be special as always.”

MWTC, to be held at Zayed Sports City's International Tennis Centre and scheduled for December 16-18, returns after last year's event was unable to go ahead due to logistical complications around the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament will once again feature a six-player male tournament and a one-off women's match, with US Open champion Emma Raducanu already confirming her participation, and will play Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic.

The top two male seeds will receive byes to the semi-finals, while the remaining four players will enter the tournament at the quarter-final stage with the winners progressing to the last four. The two players defeated in the quarters will play each other in a seventh-placed playoff.

Nadal will hope to use MWTC as a platform to kickstart his 2022 season after a year disrupted by injury. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who won two titles in 2021, cut short his season in August to focus on his recovery from a foot injury.

John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment, the tournament owners, said: “Rafael Nadal and the Mubadala World Tennis Championship go hand in hand, so we’re extremely pleased that the player with the most appearances at our Championship has declared himself fit to continue his remarkable run in Abu Dhabi.

“The fact he has only missed two of the past 12 editions is testament to the endearing appeal of the event, and Abu Dhabi as a host of major sporting events. We strive to deliver the best and securing the champion is confirmation of that. We now have a stellar line-up, with two more world-class announcements to come, so I urge fans to buy their tickets now to make sure they don’t miss out.”

Nadal's participation follows Tuesday's announcement that former US Open champion Dominic Thiem will join Norway's world No 8 Casper Ruud and Canadian Denis Shapovalov, ranked 19th, in the capital for the six-player tournament.

Tickets start from Dh100 for adults and Dh50 for children and are available from ticketmaster.ae and Virgin Megastores across the UAE. In line with current protocols, measures will be in place within the stadium and throughout the Tennis Village to ensure the health and safety of fans, players and officials.

Updated: November 04, 2021, 11:13 AM