MADRID -- Rafael Nadal says he will return to playing at the start of the year.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played since having his appendix removed this month, forcing him to miss the season-ending ATP Finals.
Nadal says "I will play in Abu Dhabi in January, and after that I will play my first official tournament in Doha."
The Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament is scheduled for Jan. 1-3. The tournament in Doha, Qatar, will be played the following week.
Last week, Nadal's doctor said he would receive stem cell treatment on his ailing back. He was already sidelined after having his appendix removed earlier this month.
At that time, Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro said he expected Nadal to resume training in December.
Nadal, now 28, won a record ninth French Open along with three other titles this season before a stunning loss to teenager Borna Coric at the Swiss Indoors in October dropped him to No. 3 in the ATP rankings. That tournament was only his third since Wimbledon due to a wrist injury.
The Mallorca island native has struggled with injuries over recent years.