Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning his men's singles tennis match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
25 December 2017: Rafa Nadal has withdrawn from next week's season-opening exhibition event in Abu Dhabi due to ongoing fitness problems, the world number one has said.
The 16-time grand slam champion, who won the French and U.S. Opens earlier 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Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have also withdrawn from the tournament, which is held from Dec. 28-30.
The Australian Open, the first major of the new season, begins on Jan. 15.