Nadal replaced by Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi's Mubadala draw

Nadal replaced by Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi's Mubadala draw

Nadal replaced by Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi's Mubadala draw

Rafael Nadal has suffered with knee injuries for large spells of his glittering tennis career, but is the latest step backwards one that could impact his consolidation of being the top player in the world right now?

"It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready", Nadal told the official Mubadala World Tennis Championships website.

There had been questions over defending champion Serena Williams following the birth of her first child in September but the American announced on Sunday she will play an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi this week. 1 has to withdraw from next week's Abu Dhabi exo.

Though Nadal had expressed confidence of being fit in time for the season-opening Australian Open, his participation now remains under the cloud after the Spaniard cancelled the planned training camp with training partner Joao Sousa.

Portuguese journalist Jose Morgado quoted Sousa as saying Nadal "still isn't ready" to practice.

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Morgado also revealed that Nadal travelled to Barcelona on Monday for another check-up on his troublesome knee.

Follows Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic declaring themselves unfit for the season opener.

After struggling with injuries previous year, Federer and Nadal have enjoyed a remarkable resurgence over the past 12 months - sharing the four grand slams between them. EPA/MADE NAGISpanish tennis player Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Austrian Dominic Thiem during their Mutua Madrid Open men's final match, at Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, 14 May 2017.

Nadal won his first Grand Slams since 2014 with a record-breaking 10th French Open title and a third US Open title.

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