Proximo Ano Abu Dhabi!

Rafael Nadal will NOT be playing this week in Abu Dhabi after all. He’s come down with a stomach virus that’ll keep him from the exhibition tournament: “My rehab has gone well, my knee feels good and I was looking forward to competing. Unfortunately doctors have informed me that my body needs to rest in order to fight this stomach virus. I would like to say sorry to all my fans in the United Arab Emirates and around the world, but I hope to play and win in Abu Dhabi again next year.” So ‘the comeback’ will have to wait ’til next week in Doha, Qatar. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Janko Tipsarevic and Tomas Berdych are just a few of the other top names in the United Arab Emirates this week.

After the crazed slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, we were all reminded of a similar incident that happened to Andy Murray in Dunblane back in 1996, when he was just 8-years-old. The gunman in that incident killed 16 students and their teacher; Andy and Jamie, his brother, survived by hiding under a desk.

“Pule” is the world’s most expensive cheese, made from donkey milk in Serbia. Two weeks ago, it was reported that Novak Djokovic is buying up the world’s supply for exclusive use in his chain of restaurants. Not true…but he is buying an ass-load of the stuff.

On the heals of the U.S. Open pay increases, of which the ATP is still protesting, using Justin Gimelstob as their mouthpiece; the Australian Open recently announced a pay-raise for its early round losers.

25-year-old Floridian Jesse Levine is interested in swearing his allegiance to the Canadian flag now (he was born in Ottawa), because like Alex Bolgomolov (America/Russia) last year, he’d like to compete in Davis Cup competition. Canada won’t get him for the Tie with Spain in February, but he’s fair game after that.

Vera Zvonereva is out of the Australian Open – respiratory problems she’s had since Wimbledon. In fact, the last tennis she played was at the Olympics.

As if there wasn’t enough drama in Israel…Shahar Peer refused to shake hands with 18-year-old Deniz Khazaniuk, after a routine beat-down of the teen in the semifinals of the Israel Open (6-0, 6-1). Earlier in 2012, Deniz criticized the entire Israeli Fed Cup Team for constantly belittling her.

Serena Williams: “I know Caro and I would call her my friend and I don’t think she (meant) anything racist by it…At the end of the day I spend my time focused on things to become better and not bring me down.” – So Caroline Wozniacki did an impression of Serena Williams during a Brazilian exhibition match – by stuffing towels in her shirt and skirt to “boost booty.” People have been calling it racist. Whatever.

Serena, by the way, will not be playing this Saturday at an exhibition in Thailand. Last week, she had a minor surgical procedure on both big toes and needs time to heal before Brisbane. She was replaced by Na Li for Saturday’s match against Victoria Azarenka.

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario resigned as Spain’s Fed Cup captain last week, shortly after most of her players bailed from their relationship with the Spanish Tennis Federation. They’re not fans of current STF president Jose Luis Escanuela, claiming a lack of support and promotion of women’s tennis in Spain.