Nadal pulls out of season opener in Abu Dhabi

MADRID: World number one Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his planned season opener at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi due to lingering fitness concerns just three weeks ahead of the Australian Open.
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.
“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.”
Spanish sports daily AS reported that Nadal had to halt his planned training schedule in his native Mallorca this week to seek medical attention in Barcelona due to the niggling knee injury.
Nadal still plans on going for a 17th Grand Slam of his career in Melbourne next month. The Spaniard will be replaced by compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut for the six-man event over three days from December 28-30.
Nishikori, Stephens out
In Brisbane, Australia, Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori has withdrawn from the season-opening Brisbane International (December 31 to January 7) as he recovers from a wrist injury. Nishikori, 27, has been out of action for more than four months, dropping to 22 in the world rankings.
“I am so disappointed to miss Brisbane this year. For years, it’s been my first tournament of the season and I always feel so at home there,” Nishikori said on the tournament’s official Twitter account.
US Open champion Sloane Stephens has also been ruled out of the Brisbane women’s tournament with a knee injury. “Sloane Stephens needs an extra week’s rehab on her knee, meaning she will now not play the Brisbane International,” the organisers tweeted. — AFP