Rafael Nadal to play in Chennai Open this winter

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Kolkata, Oct 23 (UNI) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain will play at the 416,000 dollars ATP's Championship Open in Chennai beginning December 31.

The 13th edition of Chennai Open, South Asia's premiere ATP tennis tournament will be held from December 31 to January 8, 2008 at the SDAT Stadium at Nungambakkam.

Nadal, winner of French Open for last three years (2005-07), is making his third appearance in the last five years. Nadal started his Chennai Open journey in 2004 (then Tata Open) when he was 16, but lost to Frenchman Thierry Ascione in the first round. He made his mark with his first career title, partnering Spanish compatriot Tommy Robredo to win the doubles title.

He confirmed his participation in the 2006 edition but was forced to pull-out due to a niggling injury. In the 2007 edition, Nadal was in peak form but was beaten in the semi-finals by a brilliant performance by Belgian Xavier Malisse who went on to eventually win the title.

Confirming his participation, Nadal said, ''it feels great to be coming back to Chennai. I like the crowd and their enthusiasm and support and they always push you to give your best. I lost in the semi-finals last time and I hope to win my first Chennai Open title this year. I had some injuries this year but I am confident of making a good start to the New Year and improve my performance playing in the tournament.'' Fernando Soler, Tournament Director, Chennai Open 2008, said ''Rafael is a special player and his confirmation at such an early stage re-affirms the popularity and importance Chennai Open has gathered in ATP men's tour.'' UNI

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