Rafael Nadal ready for Abu Dhabi challenge

Rafael Nadal ready for Abu Dhabi challenge

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal is relishing the prospect of competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship as this year’s line-up is one of the “most competitive” ever.

The Spaniard secured his third triumph in Abu Dhabi at last season’s event, defeating Milos Raonic in straight sets in the final, and could face the Canadian in the semi-finals of this year’s competition if he beats Tomas Berdych in his opening match on Thursday.

World number one Andy Murray, Belgium’s David Goffin and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France are the other players competing in the exhibition tournament, and Nadal believes this year’s line-up is a stellar one.

Nadal said: “This must be one of the most competitive line-ups the tournament has ever seen, so the winner will have to be at their best if they want to start the new season with a victory.

“It’s going to be a challenge. There are some great players which raises the overall standard and we can expect some action-packed matches.”

The Spaniard will be hoping to make a winning start to the 2017 season, particularly with the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, starting in less than a month’s time.

The 30-year-old secured his only success at Melbourne Park in 2009 but was beaten by compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the first round earlier this year.

The 14-time major winner will be hoping to produce an improved showing at next month’s event and is priced at 23.00 to secure the tournament victory.

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