Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka To Start Comebacks In Abu Dhabi - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka To Start Comebacks In Abu Dhabi

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

Novak Djokovic is set to play his first tournament for almost six months in December at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played on the tour since Wimbledon due to an elbow injury. Djokovic is a three-time champion of the exhibition event, which has a prize pool of $250,000. During his time away from the sport, he welcomed the birth of his second child Tara.

“I am extremely excited to return to Abu Dhabi for the fifth time and take part in the 10th Edition of the Championship.” Said Djokovic, who won the title in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“It is a huge honour to take part in such a special tournament. The line-up is very strong as always and it will be the perfect way to make my comeback and begin the season. Abu Dhabi is an amazing place and this is going to be a great event for all of the fans.”

Due to his injury problems, Djokovic has only managed to play 40 matches on the tour this season, winning 32 of them. This year he has won titles in Doha and Eastbourne, bringing his career total to 68 ATP trophies. The seventh highest in the Open Era.

Stan Wawrinka is another player who hasn’t played on the tour since Wimbledon. The three-time grand slam champion underwent knee surgery in August after announcing an early end to his season. Due to his knee, Wawrinka was unable to defend his title at the US Open. Missing the main draw of a grand slam for the first time since the 2005 Australian Open.

“It is always a pleasure to kick the season off at the beautiful event in Abu Dhabi.” Said Wawrinka. “The fans are amazing there and the draw is as strong as always with a lot of great players. My recovery is going well and I can’t wait to be back on court. I’m working hard together with my team and looking forward to being back.”

A total of six players will play in Abu Dhabi this year. Joining Djokovic and Wawrinka will be world No.1 Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic. Raonic will also be making his return from injury. Ending his season early due to a numerous problems.

Hosted at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex since 2009, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship has only been won by three players in the past. Andy Murray twice, Djokovic on three occasions and Nadal four times.

The tournament will take place between December 28-30.

 

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Old Habits Die Hard For Some In Palermo

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic even a traditional post-match gesture is now not frown upon.

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As the players return to competitive tennis for the first time in five months this week some are still not used to the new post-match rules.

 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are a series of protocols in place at this tournament and ones that will follow on the WTA Tour. In Palermo specifically players are prohibited from showing on site, signing autographs and posing with fans. Something which would have been routine at the start of this year. However, old habits are hard to break for some.

Sara Errani celebrated her marathon first round win over Sorana Cirstea by throwing her wristbands to fans. Something which has always been traditionally done by the winner of matches. However, such a well-meaning gesture is prohibited at the event due to the potential transmission of illnesses. Although all players have been COVID-19 tested and cleared before playing.

Fortunately for Errani, she isn’t the only person to unintentionally go against protocol. Qualifier Kaja Juvan did the same on Tuesday following her shock 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, win over second seed Markéta Vondroušová. The win was Juvan’s first ever over a top 20 player.

Apart from a stern glare from the match umpires, neither Errani or Juvan will be penalised in any way for doing something that is a force of habit.

Tournament director Oliviero Palma has told AFP that he is ‘proud’ that Palermo is hosting the return of tennis and the protocols implemented at the event are ones that can be copied at other events. However, he admits that it could be more challenging in certain parts of the world. Most notably America, which will host the US Open whilst there is a rise in OVID-19 cases in some areas of the country.

“The protocol is good, it’s applicable everywhere, so far it’s safe, it works. But we’re in a quiet part of the world. I understand the difficulties that the US Open could have with many more people,” he said. “But New York’s budget is not Palermo’s budget.”

Heading into the second round of the tournament on Wednesday, five out of the eight seeded players remain in the draw. Besides Vondroušová, Maria Sakkari (3) and Elise Mertens (5) have been knocked out of the tournament.

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‘My Body Is Not Use To Playing At 2am’ – Kristyna Pliskova Stuns Sakkari In Late-Night Palermo Duel

The Czech player has caused the biggest upset of the draw so far.

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Kristyna Pliskova has started her return to professional tennis following the five-month break by recording one of the biggest wins over her career at the Palermo Open.

 

The Czech tennis player held her nerve to knockout world No.20 and third seed Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4, in a late-night encounter. The first day of the WTA event saw a series of matches go the full distance, leading to Pliskova’s opening match taking place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Despite the later than expected encounter, a sleepy Pliskova still managed to come out on top to record only her seventh win over a top 20 player and second this year. She also beat Aryna Sabalenka at the Shenzhen Open in January. During her latest match, the Czech stood firmly behind her serve as she won 80% of her first service points and saved all three break points she faced. Overall, she won 69 points in the match compared to Sakarri’s 60.

“The conditions were really tough,” wtatennis.com quoted Pliskova as saying. “Before the match, I was also sleeping a little bit! We stayed so late here, I think it’s tough for [Sakkari] as well.”
“The body is not used to playing at 2:00 a.m.,”
she added.

Pliskova broke Sakkari twice in the match by doing so at the start of each set. The triumph avenges her loss to the Greek in their previous meeting that took place at the 2017 Wimbledon championships. On that occasion Sakkari fought back from a set down to win.

Former Wimbledon girls champion Pliskova is seeking her first WTA title in almost four years this week in Palermo. Her next opponent will be Italian veteran Sara Errani, who required almost three hours to oust Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, in a roller-coaster encounter.

“[Errani is] at home here, so for sure the people will cheer for her,” Pliskova commented on her next test. “She had quite a tough match, I saw. It’s very different from today, but I will try to hold my serve and hopefully I will also break her!”

Pliskova is currently ranked 69th in the WTA rankings.

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Fabio Fognini is planning to return in Kitzbuhel

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Fabio Fognini is currently training in Puglia to prepare his return to the ATP Tour in Kitzbuhel next September after undergoing ankle surgery two months ago. His coach Corrado Barazzutti confirmed that Fognini will not play in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 tournament and at the US Open. 

 

Fabio knows what he has to do to recover from the injury and is working very hard. He trains every day from 10 to 14.30. I am happy with his committment and his hard work”, said Barazzutti, who is also the Italian Davis Cup captain. 

“I think that Fabio will be ready in two weeks. We will work for four weeks in Rome to prepare for Kitzbuhel, which will mark his come-back. If everything goes to plan, Fabio will play there. We are confident because his preparation is going well well”. 

Fognini is spending his time with his wife Flavia Pennetta and his children Federico and Farah. “I think that spending with his family will be very positive for Fabio. They give him the strength to overcome the recovery from injury. Living with injuries is normal for all athletes, but it is not very easy. He is now more relaxed”, concluded Barazzutti

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