The Mubadala World Tennis Championship: Nadal, Djokovic And Serena Aim To Shine - UBITENNIS
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The Mubadala World Tennis Championship: Nadal, Djokovic And Serena Aim To Shine

Ubitennis provides an ultimate guide to the three-day tennis exhibition held in the United Arab Emirates.

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In recent years Abu Dubai has been the premier location for some of the world’s best players to finalize their preparations for the new season.

The World Tennis Championships takes place at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Centre, which was built in 2004. This year’s exhibition event feature both men’s and women’s matches between December 27th – 29th. There will be one women’s match occurring on the first day, as well as a men’s tournament featuring six players.

Ahead of the competition, here is everything you need to know about the exhibition.

The women

On Thursday there will be a sibling rivalry when Serena and Venus Williams lock horns. The two have 30 grand slam singles titles between them both with Serena winning 23 of those. Together they have also won 14 grand slam titles in doubles. In their head-to-head on the WTA Tour, Serena leads 16-12.

“This is going to be thrilling,” Serena said during an interview with The National.
“I love that Venus and I have had the ultimate rivalry. I have never played anyone I respect more and am wary of more than her. We, year after year and now I can say decade after decade, bring out the best in each other.
“It is never easy playing your best friend but she knows my game inside out, and has been so successful over me so many times. She is my role model and sister and best friend all rolled up into one. I could not be more fortunate to have her as my sister.”

It is only the second year a women’s match has taken place at the Championship and it will be the first time Venus has taken part. 12 months ago Serena, who was on the comeback from giving birth, bowed out in three sets to Jelena Ostapenko.

“Serena played here last year, it was an exciting time for her and her first competitive match of the season.” Venus told reporters in November.
“She went on to have a great year, so I hope I can do the same and have a great year this year.
“I am feeling good about my tennis and I am feeling strong.”

The clash between the Williams sisters will take place on the 27th at approximately 20:00 local time (GMT+4).

The men

As for the players from the ATP Tour, a mini tournament has been held for them annually since January 2009 when Andy Murray defeated Rafael Nadal in the final. This year’s draw will be the 11th edition of the event with four top 10 players taking part.

Nadal will be looking for a confidence boost ahead of 2019. The Spaniard hasn’t played since the US Open due to a series of injury issues. He has been troubled by knee and abdominal problems and has also undergone minor surgery on his ankle. The Spaniard has experienced numerous success at Abu Dhabi in recent years, winning the Championships a record four times.

“(Mubadala) has always been an important tournament for me since it is the best way to prepare the start of the season in Australia.” Nadal told Gulf News.

Granted a bye in the opening round, Nadal will play either Kevin Anderson or Hyeon Chung in the semi-finals. Anderson is the defending champion after scoring wins over Dominic Thiem and Roberto Bautista Agut last year. Since then, the South African has won two ATP titles and reached the final of the Wimbledon Championships.

“The biggest thing was to recover and get the body healthy and everything feels really good,” Anderson told reporters about his off-season on Wednesday. “There’s always a few things you’re working on, on the court, movement, returns and some stuff at the net but all in all things are feeling really good and I’m really excited to get on the court this week.”

22-year-old Chung will be hoping to spoil Anderson’s dream. Chung peaked at a ranking high of 19th back in April, but his campaign on the tour has also been blighted by injury issues.

“I have played Kevin a few times so I know how to play against him and I know he is one of the great players in the world. I will have to play my best.” Chung said about the upcoming match.

In the other section, Novak Djokovic is looking to continue his recent surge in form. The world No.1 has established himself as the best player in men’s tennis over the past six months after winning two grand slam and two Masters 1000 trophies. He currently leads the world rankings by more than 1500 points.

Despite Djokovic’s calibre, his first match in the tournament might not be so easy. Awaiting him will be either Dominic Thiem or Karen Khachanov, who will lock horns in the second match of the draw. Thiem has defeated the Serbian in their two most recent clashes between 2017-2018, but Djokovic was not playing his best tennis on both of those occasions. Meanwhile, Khachanov stunned the world No.1 two months ago in the final of the Paris Masters.

“This is a new season,” said Khachanov. “It will start from zero for everybody. You have to again prove that you are good and you have to get these results. Of course I am feeling more confident right now. But everything starts from zero.”

Djokovic is a former three-time champion of the event. Going undefeated at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Centre between 2011-2013.

Full order of play

27/12/18
Chung KOR Vs Anderson RSA (16:00)
Thiem AUT Vs Khachanov RUS (18:00)
Williams, Serena Vs Williams, Venus (20:00)

28/12/18
Fifth place match – TBD (15:00)
Nadal ESP Vs Chung KOR or Anderson RSA (17:00)
Novak Djokovic SRB Vs Thiem AUT or Khachanov RUS (19:00)

29/12/18
Third match play-off (17:00)
Final (19:00)
NOTE: Times are estimated and in accordance to the local time zone (GMT +4).

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Past Champions Wozniacki and Kerber Cruise Into Third Round

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber continued their search for a second Australian Open with comfortable second round wins.

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Caroline Wozniacki (zimbio.com)

Past Australian Open champions Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber cruised into the third round with straight sets wins. 

The defending champion Wozniacki made it back-t0-back wins with a crushing 6-1 6-3 win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

While 2016 champion Angelique Kerber proved why she is one of the favourites for the title after a 6-2 6-3 win against Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The German will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she stunned Donna Vekic while Wozniacki could face Maria Sharapova on Friday.

Although it was Wozniacki’s first time of defending a grand slam title, she sure hasn’t looked nervous so far as she went too work against the world number 77.

A break to love in the second game sealed a good start as the Swede was made to pay for early match nerves. In this Scandinavian clash the Dane had 10 break point opportunities as she continued to be aggressive.

After a second break in the sixth, the clinical Wozniacki sealed the opening set in 28 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

The second set provided fans with a similar pattern as the Dane assumed control by breaking in the third game to love for a 2-0 lead.

Even though Larsson created a couple break points, she wasn’t aggressive in the big moments to capitalise as Wozniacki sealed her fourth break of the match to book her place in the last 32.

A great performance from Wozniacki, who is sending a real message that she has no plans of giving up her title without a fight.

The win from the world number three means she could face Maria Sharapova in the next round, who still has to play Johanna Larsson.

Kerber Continues Good Form

Another player who is sending a real message in world number two and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber who dropped five games in a great win over Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The Brazilian qualifier had to work very hard to keep hold of her serves but was broken three times without reply as the Kerber advanced to the last 32.

In the next round Kerber will now play Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell after she knocked out 29th seed Donna Vekic 6-4 4-6 6-1.

The world number 200 is making the most of her Aussie summer as she makes the last 32 of her own slam after sealing her first top 10 win in Brisbane earlier this year against Daria Kasatkina.

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Angelique Kerber Eases Past Hercog, Goerges Ousted By Collins

Angelique Kerber set a marker for the rest of the tournament to follow after crushing Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2 in a dominant display in Melbourne.

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

Angelique Kerber sent a message to the rest of the field after she thrashed Slovenia Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2. 

The world number two has looked impressive all season and continued that form by dropping only four games in her Australian Open opener.

A clinical Kerber converted four of five break point opportunities to seal a comfortable first round win and will face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.

However the Melbourne heat got the better of 14th seed as she was ousted out of the Australian Open by in-form Danielle Collins 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4.

The 2016 champion headed into this year’s Australian Open having won five of her six matches to start the season in Hopman Cup and Sydney, with her only defeating coming to Petra Kvitova.

It was easy to see why she was one of the favourites to win the title early on as she dominated the Slovenian early on with her impeccable groundstrokes.

A 4-1 lead was secured in very quick fashion as the world number 92 was facing a very difficult task to try and outsmart the three time grand slam champion.

The 30 year old was only forced to save one break point in the first set as she won the opener in 38 minutes. Although Hercog had forced the issue a bit more in the second set, the same result was produced as Kerber opened up another 4-1 lead.

The Slovenian failed to convert any of her three break points as her 47 unforced errors would prove costly. Eventually Kerber served out a 74 minute win to progress into the next round.

After the match the German stated that she felt good despite the heat, “I am feeling and my body was feeling good and I’m happy I could play a little more than one hour today.”

The German who will be seen as a favourite for the tournament will now play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the next round.

Goerges Stunned By Heat And Collins

However it wasn’t a good day for another German as 14th seed Julia Goerges crashed out in a three set defeat to powerful American Danielle Collins.

The American played a very good last set and a half to take out the Auckland winner 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4 in brutal heat. The loss will be even more frustrating for Goerges who served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

It’s good news for Kerber though as she was scheduled to play Goerges in the fourth round and will now avoid the big-serving German in the last 16.

As for Danielle Collins she could produce a big threat in the tournament as she has an all-American clash with Sachia Vickery in the next round.

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Serena’s Bid, Halep’s Test and Wozniacki’s Mission: Five Australian Open Storylines To Follow In The Women’s Draw

What will the always unpredictable WTA Tour produce in Melbourne Park this year?

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It has been almost four years since the same woman won two grand slam titles in a row. The WTA Tour is renowned for its unpredictability, which draws an equal amount of criticism and excitement from fans. There is no telling what that this year’s Australian Open will bring, but here are the main topic’s to follow in the women’s draw.

Serena eyes No.24

During her comeback season last year, it was a case of so near, but so far for Serena Williams. Twice the American came within touching distance of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record for most grand slam titles. At Wimbledon, she suffered a comprehensive defeat to Angelique Kerber. Then at the US Open she was outplayed by Naomi Osaka in a final that was overshadowed by her clash with umpire Carlos Ramos.

“Last year she made an incredible effort to come back in shape after having a baby and actually she came back in a decent shape quite fast,” Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said.
“It was a big deal. She had a lot of medical issues after the delivery but she definitely was not 100 percent.
“And I think she’s fitter now … she came back (this season) to a very, very high level of fitness.
“So she’s ready. She’s ready to compete and when Serena’s ready to compete, she’s ready to win.”

Already a seven-time Australian Open champion, should she win again Williams would become the most successful female player in the Open Era to ever participate at the tournament. Her first triumph was in 2003 and last was in 2017, when she defeated sister Venus in the final.

“I think it’s possible for Serena to equal me,” Court told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper Sunday. “If anybody’s gonna do it, it’s Serena, but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favourite.
“I think it’s a pretty open tournament and I think an outsider can win it.”

Williams is yet to play a WTA Tournament this season heading into Melbourne. The only indication her current form occurred on December 27th when she defeated Venus in an exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championships.

The former world No.1 will make her 18th appearance in the main draw. The event where she made her grand slam debut back in 1998. At present she has a 89% winning record at the event (81-10).

Williams will take on Tatjana Maria in the first round.

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