Cape Town - World No 2 Rafael Nadal has confirmed he will make his return from injury at next month's Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion joins a star-studded field that includes world No 1 Novak Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem and Venus Williams for the December 27-29 exhibition event.
But it is the news that Nadal will return to action before the new year is out that will really get his fans buzzing.
The Spaniard was forced to pull out of the Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals in London because of an abdominal injury, and later confirmed he would be using the time off to undergo ankle surgery.
But it seems his recovery has gone according to plan and he will be back in action in time for the Australian Open in January.
Nadal is a regular fixture in Abu Dhabi, and has won it four times.
"Abu Dhabi is one of my favourite places to play, the climate, atmosphere and enthusiasm from the crowds at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship provides the perfect start to the new season," he said.
"The tournament brings together players at the top of their game; we all relish playing in these extremely competitive matches."
John Lickrish, chief executive of Flash Entertainment, the event organisers, said: "We're putting together an exciting line-up - one that reiterates the growing prominence of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on the global tennis calendar. Nadal's return, alongside the newly crowned No 1 Novak Djokovic, plus returning champ Kevin Anderson, underlines the importance top players place on the event. Welcoming Venus Williams for her debut in Abu Dhabi adds additional star power; we're truly excited at the calibre of participants this year."