12/8/12 5:28 AM | Johan Lindahl
Organisers of the December 27-29 Abu Dhabi exhibition are hoping that Spain's Rafael Nadal will truly end his six-month injury absence at their December 27-29 event.
But they are ready with possible unnamed replacements if the knee injury victim makes a sudden late pullout.
"We don't have a cut off point as such. We're 100 percent focused on Nadal coming here," event director Vickie Gunnarson told the Sport360 website. "Of course, we are professional enough that should that happen (Nadal withdrawing), then we definitely know other options to call.
"But that's not even an option we are considering at the moment and our focus and commitment lies with Rafa."
Nadal sparked confusion when he was unable to exactly specify what events he might play when he does return to tennis after his medical problems, which have dropped him to fourth in the world and cast a shadow over his career, are over.
Even if he does front up as expected in the Gulf and then plays the Australian Open, the 26-year-old has voiced little if any hope of performing up to his own high expectations. Nadal tried to clarify his program, saying he hoped to play as early at the Abu Dhabi event.
That calmed things slightly for nervous organizers of the rich exho which also features Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who will be playing the tournament for the first time since winning the inaugural edition in 2009. The field also includes Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic.
"I personally didn't find what he said alarming," Gunnarson said. "Putting his fitness first is natural when you think how long he's been away from the game. But there is no doubt he has all the intentions to play in Abu Dhabi.
"I was back and forth with Rafa's camp (this week) and we continue to get regular updates from his camp. Rafa's goal is to play Abu Dhabi and that is what he is working towards. He is training really, really hard and he's getting stronger. So it's looking good."
Some of the competitors are due to spend Christmas in the Gulf, with others arriving in the region on Boxing Day with one day to spare before the start.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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