Wawrinka and Raonic pull out of Mubadala Championship in Abu Dhabi

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No-show: Stan Wawrinka.

Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have pulled out of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, postponing their long-awaited return to tennis.

Kevin Anderson and Russian NextGen star Andrey Rublev have been announced as replacements in the six-player line-up that includes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta.

The ninth-ranked Wawrinka has not played a match since Wimbledon last July and has been recovering from double knee surgery.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play in Abu Dhabi this year as I’m not ready yet to compete at this level,” said Wawrinka. “Together with my team, I’m working hard and we will do everything to be ready in time for the Australian Open. I’m sad that I won’t be able to play in front of the great fans at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship but I need to be patient and give my body the time it needs. I wish everyone a great event and hope to be back in Abu Dhabi in 2018.”

Raonic has played just six matches since Wimbledon, with his last appearance being a second round retirement in Tokyo in October. He missed the US Open to recover from wrist surgery then suffered a calf strain in Japan.

Rublev, who had a breakthrough 2017 that saw him reach the quarter-finals of the US Open, will replace Raonic in the draw and open his Abu Dhabi campaign against Dominic Thiem (19:00 UAE time) on Thursday, December 28, while Anderson takes Wawrinka’s spot and faces Carreno Busta on the same opening day (17:00 UAE time).

The winner of Anderson-Carreno Busta faces Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday, December 29 (17:00) while the winner of Thiem-Rublev takes on Djokovic at 19:00.

Anderson, who will be making his second Abu Dhabi appearance, said: “I am looking forward to playing in Abu Dhabi and getting ready for the new season and the year’s first Grand Slam. The competition is going to be intense and I’m looking to pick up on where I left off last year.”

Sport360 is offering a competition where a child, aged 6-12, can win a spot as the bag carrier for either Thiem or Rublev on day one of the MWTC, along with two tickets – one of which must be used by the entrant.

To enter the competition, like or comment on this Facebook post, or retweet this post on Twitter.

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Serena Williams hints at return with Instagram post

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Back on court: Serena Williams.

Serena Williams says she has struggled with her baby daughter’s teething pain even as she tweeted a photo hinting she might be working on a comeback to defend her Australian Open title.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world number one drew sympathetic replies to Sunday tweets about baby daughter Alexis Olympia’s teething issues, complete with a photo, then posted another picture Monday of an empty Tennis court looking set up for the start of a workout.

The next Australian Open begins on January 15 at Melbourne, which would be barely beyond four months after Williams gave birth to her daughter on September 1.

Teething- aka the devil – is so hard. Poor Alexis Olympia has been so uncomfortable. She cried so much (she never cries) I had to hold her until she fell asleep. I’ve tried amber beads… cold towels…. chew on mommies fingers…. homeopathic water (lol on that one) but nothing is working. It’s breaking my heart. I almost need my mom to come and hold me to sleep cause I’m so stressed. Help? Anyone??

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Williams began her latest tweets on Sunday with a plea for help on how to ease the torment of teething.

“Teething- aka the devil – is so hard,” tweeted Williams. “Poor Alexis Olympia has been so uncomfortable. She cried so much (she never cries) I had to hold her until she fell asleep. I’ve tried amber beads… cold towels…. chew on mommies fingers…. homeopathic water (lol on that one) but……

“Nothing is working. It’s breaking my heart. I almost need my mom to come and hold me to sleep cause I’m so stressed. Help? Anyone??”

Among the advices she received — “try a wet washcloth for the baby let her chew it.”

On Monday, there was no mention of teething but a photo of the open court, a racquet bag leaning on a stool with towels and a bicycle nearby serving notice that Williams might have found a cure for herself with the next Grand Slam tournament only four weeks away.

Williams has said she intended to defend the crown she won earlier this year while unknowingly pregnant but has not confirmed any firm plans to play in Melbourne since the birth of her daughter.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley had said he was confident Williams would be competing in Melbourne. Her name was on the entry list released earlier this month.

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Djokovic and Kyrgios to warm up for Australian Open with Tie Break Tens event

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Going a for a seventh in Melbourne: Novak Djokovic.

Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will warm-up for a tilt at a record seventh Australian Open crown by playing in an innovative quickfire event at the Melbourne venue.

Djokovic, who has been sidelined since July with a right elbow injury, is making his long-awaited return to the game at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi from December 28-30.

The Serbian world No. 12 and Australian Nick Kyrgios will headline the eight-man Tie Break Tens tournament at Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park on January 10.

Each match will last for one tiebreak, with the first player to 10 points winning.

The entire tournament will be completed on the night, and the winner will pocket $250,000.

The Australian debut of the novel format comes after three previous events in London, Vienna and Madrid.
Kyrgios, who brought an early end to his season in October because of a long-standing hip injury, said the tournament “really suits my game style”.

“I am looking forward to having some fun with it and I reckon the crowds will really get into it,” said Kyrgios.

The Australian Open’s tournament director Craig Tiley said he was “absolutely thrilled” the format would feature in Melbourne, adding that it was “fast, its flashy and heaps of fun for everyone”.

The Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on January 15.

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