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Rafael Nadal wants to make it a hat-trick of titles when he makes his long-awaited return from a knee injury at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi at the end of December.

The injury-plagued Spaniard has not featured since suffering a partial tear of the patella tendon in his left knee in the summer. His last appearance came in a shock second-round defeat by Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon.

Nadal returned to the practice court for the first time in over five months in November and will make his comeback in the exhibition tournament in the Middle East, which begins on December 27. He will face either Andy Murray or Janko Tipsarevic in the semi-finals of the six-player event.
"Can't wait to get back on court in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month," Nadal wrote on his Facebook page.

"I won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in 2010 and 2011 - would love to get my hands on the trophy again this year!"

Confidence is slowly building in the Nadal camp as the world number four works his way back to full fitness. Only last week, Nadal played down his chances of making an immediate impact on his return.

"I will only come back when I am fit. I won't come back worrying about my knee," the 11-time Grand Slam champion told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

"Miracles do not exist and I am unlikely to return and compete for the Australian Open. The results will not worry me in the first tournaments back."

A victory for Nadal in Abu Dhabi would make the big guns sit up and take notice ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season in January.

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