Nadal among stars in Australian Open fight

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Other players who are struggling with return to tour and remain questionable for the warm-up events prior to Australian Open, which starts on January 15, are Kei Nishikori (pulled out of Brisbane) and Andy Murray (delayed his departure for Australia).

Rafael Nadal is among some of the game's biggest names racing the clock to make the Australian Open start line as the world's tennis elite prepare to joust for a record $60 million summer purse. EPA/JuanJo MartinRafael Nadal of Spain returns to Karen Khachanov of Russian Federation in their third round match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 07 July 2017.

Nadal, 31, was forced to pull out of the 2017 season-ending ATP Masters last month due to a knee injury after an exhausting season in which he won the French and US Opens. EPA/GERRY PENNYRafael Nadal of Spain in action against David Goffin of Belgium during their group stage match during the ATP Finals in London, Britain, 13 November 2017.

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World No.1 player Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi next week.

He will have played just one competitive match in nearly two months by the time he lobs as top seed at the Brisbane International starting on New Year's Eve. "I think it's the most special achievement for me".

Also, Nadal withdrawing from this event should not necessarily ring alarm bells just yet. "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".

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