With the New Year approaching, it’s almost time for this year’s edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Here is a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know in the run-up to this year’s event.
The world’s top tennis stars, including World No.1 Andy Murray, World No.3 Milos Raonic, fourteen time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, Czech powerhouse Tomas Berdych, Debutant David Goffin and charismatic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Labelled the annual ‘season opener’, it continuously attracts the best from the sport of tennis that the world has to offer. The tournament lasts three days and is packed with action from start to finish.
Not only can spectators see a minimum of two world-class tennis games each day, they also have access to plenty of family fun in the Tennis Village.
Just outside centre court, guests can get up-close-and-personal with the players through autograph signing sessions, including Andy Murray and Milos Raonic on day one of the tournament and Rafael Nadal on day two.
Fans also get the chance for a coaching clinic with Murray on the opening day. Other famous faces you will spot in Tennis Village this year include Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mum. There is something for all the family, especially the little ones as there is a special Kids Day on day one.
29-31 December 2016. Here’s what’s in store for fans on each day:
Day One – 29 December
On day one, David Goffin will face crowd favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening match of the tournament. Ranked 11th and 12th in the world, and good friends off the court as well, it’s bound to be dramatic, particularly as Tsonga has won three out of their five encounters.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, returning for his eighth appearance at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and looking to retain his title, will meet Czech giant Tomas Berdych in the second match of the day.
These two have met only once previously in Abu Dhabi at the 2010 edition, with Nadal sailing through to the semi-finals 6-4 6-4.
Day Two – 30 December
Murray and Raonic will be waiting hungrily to face the winners of day one for a blockbusting Friday.
Murray will be first up in the 5pm semi-final against Tsonga or Goffin, followed by Raonic v Berdych or Nadal at 7pm.
A bonus for tennis fans looking for a packed day of action, the fifth place play-off will kick off proceedings at 2.30pm, followed by a showdown featuring the top two Emirati players who will go head to head in a doubles match with the fifth and sixth place players.
Day Three – 31 December
The competition heats up at 1pm in the battle for third place, followed by the ultimate on-court clash at 3pm for the final. Be there.
On paper it should be a Murray-Raonic showdown which would mean a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final, and the recent epic semi-final between the two at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
But sport is never predictable and Nadal could well bring his usual Mubadala World Tennis Championship magic to town in a bid to take his fourth title in Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Eve. With Nadal playing on day one, this is the first time Nadal has the potential to play all three days of the tournament.
The International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Activities start from midday each day, except for finals day, Saturday 31st, where it begins at 10am.
Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ae or Virgin Megastores, starting from AED 50. Exclusive premier hospitality packages are also available including food and beverages, star player meet and greets and courtside seating, all offering fans the opportunity to be closer to the action with more access to tennis stars than any other event.
Imagine spending your New Year’s Eve watching two of the world’s best tennis players battle it out for a trophy. That’s what will happen if you come to Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Gift your friends and family the best holiday present in town and see in the New Year with exciting action from the world’s best tennis players.
MWTC 2016 ticket prices (in AED)
|Premier||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Category 1||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|3 Day Package||1,300|
|Category 2||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Family Package of 4||250||n/a||n/a|
|3 Day Package||600|
The Swiss star and world number three, who turns 35 in August, this week plays on the Stuttgart grass for the first time as he ramps up his preparations for Wimbledon in June-July.
“It’s the grass-court season now, that’s huge for me,” said the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who headlines the Stuttgart event, which switched from clay a year ago and crowned Rafael Nadal its first champion on the new surface.
Federer made clear he had been disappointed by those who questioned – mostly on social media – the extent of the back injury that forced him out of Roland Garros.
Federer, who has been plagued by knee and back injuries this year, last missed a Grand Slam event in 1999 when he skipped the US Open.
“I was surprised to hear that some thought I pulled out because of the (Paris) weather,” said Federer, who last tasted action when he lost to Dominic Thiem in the third round in Rome nearly a month ago.
“That (rain) had nothing to do with it — either you are strong enough or you are not. I knew I made the right decision.
“After all these years, it’s Ok to miss a major. It’s not all about them anyway: it’s about health, it’s about feeling good about the rest of the season, my career and my life as well.”
Federer, one of the best tennis players of all time after racking up 17 Grand Slam titles, said he had taken the time off from Paris to get back to fitness and spend time with his family.
The 2009 French Open champion was full of praise for Novak Djokovic after his Serb rival won the Paris title for the first time at the weekend with a four-set victory over Andy Murray.
“For tennis it’s great, now he has won all of the grand slams. It’s world-class, which is rare. He did it the hard way, it was wonderful how it worked out,” Federer said.
The Swiss takes the top seeding at the hilltop Weissenhof club in Stuttgart and will await a second-round opponent after a bye.
He faces either US teenager Taylor Fritz or a qualifier.
“It will be a good week when I get on the court and play a match. A great week would be the semi-finals and a dream run would be to win,” Federer added.
“Crazier things have happened. Everything is possible this week.”
Murray, ranked number two in the world behind Djokovic, has been outspoken on drug use in the sport in recent weeks and welcomed the ban imposed on Maria Sharapova following her failed test for meldonium at the Australian Open.
The Scot, who was beaten by Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final on Saturday, has also talked of being suspicious of opponents who he thought were not getting tired in matches.
And Becker, a six-time grand slam winner, has accused Murray of being “out of order”.
Speaking at the Laureus World Sport Awards, the German told the Daily Mail: “We have random drug-testing and unless it’s proven, they are 100 per cent innocent.
“So to assume something because somebody has won a grand slam or is fitter is totally out of order. Andy is one of the fittest players on the tour – he often outlasts players and nobody is questioning his ethics.
The funniest thing about Becker slamming Murray is that he accused Muster of doping in 1996 and Muster's fitness coach is now Djokovic's.— Chris de Waard (@TennisPurist) April 17, 2016
“I believe 100 per cent Andy is clean. Roger (Federer) is clean, Rafa is clean, all these guys are clean. Novak gets tested a lot. That can mean twice in a grand slam.”
Murray had told the Mail On Sunday: “I have played against players and thought, ‘They won’t go away’ or ‘They don’t seem to be getting tired’.
“Have I ever been suspicious of someone? Yeah. You hear things. It’s harder to tell in our sport as people can make big improvements to a stroke or start serving better because they have made technical changes.
“If it’s purely physical and you’re watching someone playing six-hour matches over and over and showing no signs of being tired, you’d look at that.”