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Nadal to return next month in Abu Dhabi exhibition

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Rafael Nadal will return from a wrist injury to play an exhibition in late December in United Arab Emirates.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion said Monday on his Facebook page he will compete in the six-player, $250,000 Mubadala World Tennis Championship. The event is not connected to the ATP Tour and will be held in Abu Dhabi from Dec. 29-31.

Top-ranked Andy Murray is also scheduled to play, as is fourth-ranked Milos Raonic. Nadal beat Raonic in the previous final.

Last month, Nadal said he was cutting short his 2016 season to fully recover from an injured left wrist that sidelined him for more than two months this season.

The 30-year-old Spaniard recently missed a tournament in Basel, Switzerland, and last week’s Paris Masters. He also will miss the season-ending ATP Finals that begin Sunday in London.

Nadal said he intensified his recovery to play in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, causing wrist pain in every tournament after that. He won the doubles gold medal in Rio. He lost in the singles semifinals and the third-place match.

Earlier in the year, the injury forced Nadal to withdraw from the French Open before the third round and skip Wimbledon altogether.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”