ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals)

Rafael Nadal out of season-opener in Abu Dhabi because of fitness concerns

Another setback for the 16-time grand slam champion, who won two majors in 2017 but struggled with knee problems late in the year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 December, 2017, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 December, 2017, 2:56pm

Spain’s Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week’s season-opening exhibition event in Abu Dhabi owing to fitness problems, the world number one has said.

The 16-time grand slam champion, who won the French and US Opens this year, withdrew from the ATP Finals 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 organisers 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Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have also withdrawn from the tournament, which is held from Dec ember 28-30.

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