Rafael Nadal has said that returning to action "will not be easy" after his knee injury, but the Spanish tennis star plans to take to the court at the exhibition in Abu Dhabi, an event that starts on Dec. 27.

"After this long period away from competition with all these months of rehabilitation and now hard practice, I am excited to see the moment to play again is close," Nadal said in a statement posted on the Web site of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

Nadal, who has not played since June 28, confirmed last week that he planned to play the exhibition tournament, which he won in 2010 and 2011.

"Abu Dhabi has been the perfect place to begin the year so I can't wait to get back. Being in a tournament setting while getting match fitness against some tough competition in good weather can only help me move forward as I look at the rest of the season. I've missed playing and I've missed the fans but I know I'll get a really warm welcome in Abu Dhabi," Nadal said in the statement released on Tuesday.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion began the summer on a high note by capturing a record 7th French Open title with a victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final, but he has not played since a shocking second-round loss at Wimbledon.

Nadal told Efe in August that he was suffering from a knee ailment known as Hoffa's syndrome, which is also known as fat pad impingement and involves pain and swelling around the bottom and under the kneecap.

The tennis star has decided to practice on the indoor court in Manacor, his hometown on the Mediterranean island of Majorca.

The Spaniard, known for his physically demanding style of play and incredible defensive skills, has struggled to stay healthy during his career, having been forced to withdraw from each of the four Grand Slam events due to various injuries. EFE