Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev and Emma Raducanu lead a strong field at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships - UBITENNIS
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Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev and Emma Raducanu lead a strong field at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships

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Andy Murray completes a star-studded eight-player line-up at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, which returns this year this year from 16 to 18 December at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City. 

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist won the Mubadala World Tennis Championships twice in the inaugural edition in 2009 and 2015. 

Murray joins a field that features three top 10 players Andrey Rublev (world number 5), five-time Mubadala tournament winner Rafael Nadal (world number 6) and Casper Ruud (world number 8). The other stars expected to play at the Mubadala tournament are Denis Shapovalov and 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem.  

Ruud, who won five ATP Tour titles in a very successful 2021 season, will face 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist Denis Shapovalov in the opening match on 16 December. Thiem will make his come-back from injury in the second match against Murray. 

The opening day will be closed by a women’s match between 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu and Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic. Raducanu beat Bencic in the quarter final at this year’s Open en route to winning her first Grand Slam title at the age of 18. 

Raducanu made history at the US Open, becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virgina Wade at Wimbledon 1977, and the first qualifier to win a Major singles title at the age of 18. The British teenager did not drop a set in all ten matches she player in New York just three months after her WTA Tour level main draw debut in Nottingham. 

Raducanu, who was ranked world number 150 when she won the US Open, is the lowest-ranked player to win the US Open title since an unranked Kim Cljisters won the first Major title of her come-back at the 2009 US Open. After the Flashing Meadows triumph Raducanu rose to world number 23 in the WTA Ranking. 

“I have many happy memories of Abu Dhabi and I am looking forward to returning. With Raducanu also playing on day one, we will be flying the flag for British tennis and looking to put on a strong display”, said Andy Murray. 

Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev will face the winners of the Day 1 men’s matches in the semifinal on Day 2. Rublev, who won the Rotterdam title this year, will face the winner of the match between Ruud and Shapovalov. Nadal will take on either Murray or Thiem. 

Nadal is training after recovering from the injury, which sidelined him during the second half of the 2021 season. Nadal has not played since last August, when he lost to Lloyd Harris in the second round of the ATP 500 in Washington. The Spanish star will start the 2022 season at the ATP 250 in Melbourne on 3 January. He will play in an ATP 250 tournament for the first time since 2017 in Brisbane, where he beat Alexander Dolgopolov and Misha Zverev before losing to Milos Raonic in the quarter finals. Nadal has not won an ATP 250 title since Stuttgart 2015. 

Nadal has recently added his close friend Marc Lopez as the third coach in his training group which includes Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig. Nadal and Marc Lopez won the Olympic gold medal in the doubles tournament. Lopez is a close friend of Nadal and has practised with the 20-time Grand Slam champion in the past. Marc Lopez has been part of Feliciano Lopez’s team in the past and served as Feliciano’s coach after his split with Pepo Clavet. 

“Abu Dhabi is a special place for me, a place where I have been many times and where I started my season many times. Ever since I first came to Abu Dhabi, I have had a great response from the fans and I am sure the atmosphere is going to be special as always. I want to return to the court soon, but I want to do it when I am ready. My preparation is going on better than before. Otherwise I would not have chosen to play in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi will be an important test. I have no expectations”, said Nadal. 

Rublev made his Abu Dhabi debut in 2017. Last year he won six ATP tournaments in the past two seasons in Doha, Adelaide, Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna (2020) and Rotterdam (2021). 

“It’s always exciting to be heading back to Abu Dhabi and playing in front of the fans there. They really know tennis and make a real difference. With the event at full capacity it’s going to be a great way to begin a busy 2022 season”, said Rublev. 

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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Holger Rune reaches the second round at the Sofia Open

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Danish Next Gen rising star Holger Rune edged past Tim Van Rijthoven 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) to reach the second round at the Sofia Open in his first appearance at this tournament. 

 

Both players went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Rune earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The second set started with a trade of breaks in the first two games. There was little to separate both players in the next games, which went on serve en route to the tie-break. Rune saved a set point at 5-6 in the tie-break of the second set and won the final three points to close out the second set 8-6. 

Rune won his first title in Munich and reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter final at Roland Garros. 

 “I did not want to go to three sets. I had the break and led 5-2 in the second set tie-break. If it had happened, I was going to fight for sure and try to take it in three, but I am very happy to win in two. I am really working hard every day and trying to improve any small things I can. I think today I stayed very focused all the time. I lost my focus one time on serve, when maybe I should not have been broken, but other than that I am very happy with my first match. The first match is always a  bit difficult”, said Rune. 

Australia’s Alexander Vukic beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (13-11) 7-5 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. Vukic broke serve in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead. Fognini converted his fourth break-back point to draw level to 4-4 before saving a break point at 5-5. Fognini went up a 6-3 lead, but he wasted six set points in the tie-break. Vukic closed out the tie-break 13-11 on his third set point. 

Fognini earned a break to take a 2-1 lead. Vukic broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2 in the fourth game. Fognini lost four consecutive points from 4-5 30-0. Vukic earned the decisive break on his first match point to seal the second set 7-5. 

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Dominic Thiem battles past Laslo Djere in three sets in Tel Aviv

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Dominic Thiem came back from one set down to beat Laslo Djere 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in 2 hours and 40 minutes reaching the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. 

 

Djere broke serve in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Thiem broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Djere earned his second break in the 11th game to close out the first set 7-5. 

Thiem broke serve at deuce in the sixth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Djere broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Djere earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thiem did not face a break point in the third set and converted his fourth break point in the third game to seal the third set 6-4. 

“I did not get off to a great start. I got the break in the second set and I was a bit lucky I could turn the match around. The third set was a real grind. I am vert grateful to everyone who came tonight. It is really nice to play in Israel”, said Thiem.  Roman Safiulin came back from one set down to beat Hugo Grenier 3-6 6-4 6-2 in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Safiulin earned his first ATP Tour win since he beat Mikael Ymer in Belgrade last April.

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