Nadal out of season-opening Abu Dhabi event

Reuters
The 31-year-old Spaniard, who has previously played at the tournament on eight occasions, will be replaced by compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.
Reuters
Reuters

Tennis world No. 1 Rafael Nadal watches on the third hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany in  New Providence, The Bahamas, in this December 3, 2017, photo. The Spaniard has pulled out of the season-opening Abu Dhabi event.

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week's season-opening exhibition event in Abu Dhabi due to ongoing fitness problems, the world No. 1 has said.

The 16-time grand slam champion, who won the French and US Opens earlier this year, withdrew from the ATP Finals in London in November after struggling with a knee injury during his round-robin defeat by Belgian David Goffin.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, who has previously played at the tournament on eight occasions, will be replaced by compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.

"It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready," Nadal told the Mubadala World Tennis Championships website.

"For this reason, I have sadly announced to the organizers and now to you fans that I won't play this time in Abu Dhabi."

Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have also withdrawn from the tournament, which is held from December 28-30.

The Australian Open, the first major of the new season, begins on January 15 in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, a continuing custody dispute has prevented two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka from resuming her tennis career at the ASB Classic in Auckland from January 1.

Azarenka notified tournament organizers on Sunday that she will be unable to play the tournament for "personal reasons".

The former world No. 1 has not played since Wimbledon in July because she cannot leave California until a dispute with her former partner over the custody of their son Leo is resolved.

Tournament director Karl Budge said: "There is obviously a fair bit going on and unfortunately the result of that is that Victoria won't be here next week. That's a tough one for her. She's been training hard and is a professional tennis player that wants to be playing tennis."

Azarenka has been given a wildcard into the Australian Open.


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