Nadal to return to Dubai Tennis Championships after 15-year absence

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Rafael Nadal will return to the Dubai Tennis Championships next month, 15 years after he last competed in the competition.

Victorious in 2006, Nadal has not played at the event since 2008 but will make his return when the competition begins on February 27.

Ranked second in the world, Nadal's campaign in the United Arab Emirates will take place after the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne, where he is bidding to retain the Australian Open title he won 12 months ago.

Since he last featured at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Nadal has established himself as one of the sport's greatest players, something Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and chief executive of the tournament's sponsor Dubai Duty Free, was keen to highlight.

"As one of the most instantly recognisable personalities in global sport, and one of the most decorated players to ever grace the game, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Rafa back to the Dubai Tennis Championships after 15 years," he said.

"The last time Rafa played in Dubai, he had won three grand slams. He returns having amassed more grand slam titles than any other male player in history."

The 36-year-old followed last year's triumph in Australia with victory in the French Open for a record 22nd grand slam title.

Andrey Rublev won last year's Dubai Tennis Championships title, beating Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4 in the final.