• ATP Tour

Nadal targets Abu Dhabi hat-trick

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal does not expect to be at the peak of his powers until April 2013 © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal has high hopes of kicking off his comeback with a tournament win when he makes his return from long-term injury at the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi at the end of December.

The Spaniard has not played since his shock second-round Wimbledon exit to Lukas Rosol, taking a six-month break to recover from a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his left knee.

Nadal missed out on the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals and Spain's Davis Cup final defeat by the Czech Republic, but returned to the practice courts in November and last week admitted it may take until April 2013 before he rediscovers his best form and fitness.

But that hasn't stopped the world No. 4 from talking up his prospects ahead of his return at the exhibition event on December 27.

"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!"

The 11-time grand slam champion's comments are far more optimistic than those he gave in a Spanish radio interview last week.

"I will only come back when I am fit. I won't come back worrying about my knee," he told Onda Cero. "The results will not worry me in the first tournaments back.

"We are in the last stage of the recovery and I want to recover as soon as possible but I will not rush back and then have to stop again in six months or a year's time."

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