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.
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) December 14, 2018
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).
👇🏻💪🏻 entrenamiento, practice! pic.twitter.com/z0nQNQvWnv
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 10, 2018
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.”
Happy to be back in Abu Dhabi 😃 @MubadalaTennis pic.twitter.com/MR6j0m82wE
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) December 26, 2018
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
Chung KOR Vs Anderson RSA (16:00)
Thiem AUT Vs Khachanov RUS (18:00)
Williams, Serena Vs Williams, Venus (20:00)
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)
Third match play-off (17:00)
NOTE: Times are estimated and in accordance to the local time zone (GMT +4).
Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles
Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.
Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training.
The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.
In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.
“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there.
“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”
This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.
Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.
Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.
Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83
Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.
Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.
Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.
Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.
After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.
“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”
Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.
Thank you for everything that you have done for our sport. My thoughts are with your family and loved ones.
Rest In Peace, Ashley. https://t.co/uOoedanL6K
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) May 22, 2020
Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.
“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.
The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.
Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records
Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).
“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.
The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.
“I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.
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