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Mubadala World Tennis Championship star Rafael Nadal says Roger Federer’s amazing 2012 season came as no surprise to him.

Speaking just four days ahead of his eagerly-aniticpated return to Abu Dhabi, Nadal says he never doubted Federer despite some writing off 31-year-old Swiss meastro as a spent force.

Federer is a noticeable absentee from this week's festive feast of tennis action in the UAE capital, but Nadal is excited about renewing hostilities with his long-time rival in 2013 to add to the 28 they’ve already shared.

“Roger has played great again this season,” Nadal told Sport360° in an email. “I had no doubt about it and always disagreed with people saying he was over a few years ago. 

“He is a great champion and has proven it again. I hope we can have more great matches to come.”

After winning at least one Grand Slam for eight consecutive seasons, Federer finished 2011 without a Major coup. But the Swiss bounced back in 2012 to win a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon trophy along with five other titles.

His strong recovery also saw him recapture the world No1 ranking in July, surpassing Pete Sampras' record for the longest time spent at the top of men's tennis in the process, before eventually surrendering it to Novak Djokovic.

Nadal will be making his long-awaited return to tennis after a six-month injury lay-off in Abu Dhabi on Friday and while he had previously admitted to nerves about the state of his knee, he insists he can’t wait to step back on court.

“I’m definitely very excited about it,” said the 26-year-old. “I’m sure (the Abu Dhabi crowd) will see me trying my best as always. I still don’t know how my performance will be since I haven’t played in a few months and therefore I am out of rhythm but we will see, you never know.”


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