DOHA - Rafael Nadal will end his six-month, injury-enforced absence from tennis by playing back-to-back tournaments in the Persian Gulf before launching his assault on the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old Spaniard hasn't played since his shock second-round defeat against Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.
He was then diagnosed as suffering with Hoffa syndrome, an inflammation of the fatty tissue in his left knee, a problem that has sidelined him several times over the years.
Nadal will play alongside Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in a three-day exhibition in Abu Dhabi from Dec 27-29 before taking top seeding at the Qatar Open in Doha which begins on December 31.
French Open champion Nadal was unable to defend his Olympic title, missed the US Open, the ATP World Tour Finals and also Spain's defeat to the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final.