Rafael Nadal has confirmed he will be back to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title in Abu Dhabi, where he’ll be vying for a fifth trophy in Abu Dhabi.
The world No. 2 will be joined by former runner-up and world No. 10 Milos Raonic, and MWTC debutant Dominic Thiem, the world No. 8.
This year’s edition of the three-day blockbuster exhibition will take place from December 28-30, 2017, with three more players yet to be announced.
In anticipation of his return to the 10th edition of the MWTC, Rafael Nadal said: “I am extremely excited to play in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship again later this year.
“This tournament is very important to me as it is not only the 10th edition and my ninth appearance, but I will also be defending my title. I am very proud to be part of this great event and I know it will be a really enjoyable and challenging tournament as always.”
Raonic, a Wimbledon finalist in 2016, will be coming back to Abu Dhabi for a third straight year. The Canadian power-server was runner-up in the UAE capital in 2015 and claimed fourth place in last season’s edition.
The event, staged at Zayed Sports City’s 5,000 capacity tennis stadium, offers a winner-takes-all $250,000 prize.
To celebrate the landmark 10th edition, organisers FLASH Entertainment, in partnership with Mubadala, are releasing tickets starting from just Dh50. Those who purchase a ticket in the first 10 days will be entered into daily draws to win unbelievable prizes including signed merchandise from this year’s and past MWTC players, star player clinic spots and the chance to meet their favourite player and carry his bag out alongside them on court.
John Lickrish, CEO of FLASH Entertainment, who launched the tournament in 2008 said: “To be celebrating the 10th landmark edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship this year is something FLASH are truly proud of.
“We bring a tournament format that is completely unique to the UAE, where tennis fans can enjoy watching the world’s best players battle it out, and families and friends can come together for a great day out to lap up the excitement both on and off-court.
“Over the past nine editions we have seen 125,000 fans come and join us in Abu Dhabi, which goes to show its popularity here. With Nadal, Raonic and Thiem already lined up, this year will certainly be another thrilling event.”
Tickets to the Championship go on sale to the general public at 12pm on Monday, August 14, at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE. For more information, visit: www.mubadalawtc.com
UPDATED — As one Masters 1000 event wraps up in Montreal on Sunday, a new one kicks off in Cincinnati, where the battle for the No. 1 ranking will heat up.
Once again – in the absence of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, and Marin Cilic – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer headline the field as the top two seeds, and the only top-six players in action.
Cilic, out nursing an abductor injury, will not be able to defend his title, while last year’s runner-up Murray is still recovering from a hip problem.
The only three players to win Masters 1000 events this season are Nadal, Federer and Alexander Zverev.
Kei Nishikori pulled out of Cincinnati on Sunday with a right wrist issue as injuries continue to plague the Japanese world No9. He was replaced in the draw by lucky loser Janko Tipsarevic.
Here’s a closer look at the Cincinnati draw and the main storylines heading into the tournament.
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 
Dominic Thiem (AUT)  v
Kei Nishikori (JPN)  Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 
Milos Raonic (CAN)  v Alexander Zverev (GER) 
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)  v Roger Federer (SUI) 
David Goffin (BEL)  v Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) v Tomas Berdych (CZE) 
Mischa Zverev (GER) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v Karen Khachanov (RUS)
Andy Murray will lose his No. 1 ranking in Cincinnati, and the question is: Who will replace him at the top – Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer?
Had Federer won the Montreal title on Sunday (lost in straights to Zverev), he would have needed to match or better Nadal’s result in Cincinnati in older to clinch the No. 1 ranking.
But since the Swiss lost in Canada, Nadal has a better chance of reaching the top. The winner of the Cincy crown will also walk away with the No. 1 ranking.
Since reaching the summit of the rankings for the first time in February 2004, Federer has spent a record 302 weeks at world No. 1. His streak of 237 consecutive weeks at the top is also a record.
The last time Federer was ranked No. 1 in the world was November 4, 2012.
Nadal has occupied the top position in the rankings for a total of 141 weeks. The last time the Spaniard was No. 1 was July 6, 2014.
Federer has placed some doubt on his Cincinnati participation saying his body felt a bit sore. But he will make his final decision in the next couple of days.
Zverev has won 17 of his last 19 matches, with his only defeats during that stretch coming to Federer in the Halle final, and Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon fourth round.
He won Washington earlier this month, beat Federer in the Montreal final on Sunday, and is shaping up to be one of the favourites heading into the US Open (begins August 28). He’s on a 10-match winning streak and is up to a career-high ranking of No. 7.
Will he run out of steam by the time New York comes around, or does the 20-year-old have it in him to keep it going and enjoy a breakthrough at the Open? He’s sustained a high level over the past few weeks. It’s hard seeing him lose momentum before the final Grand Slam of the season.
With Zverev miles ahead of his fellow NextGen players (those aged 21 and under, ranking in the top-200), the chasing pack in the Race to Milan standings are almost in a separate league, competing amongst one another.
Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov had a phenomenal week in Montreal, where he reached the semis, beating Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal along the way.
NextGen players to look out for in Cincinnati would be:
– Daniil Medvedev, who has a tricky opener against Fabio Fognini, before a potential second round with third-seeded Dominic Thiem’;
– Borna Coric, who fell tamely to Nadal in Montreal, and opens against Nikoloz Basilashvili, with a potential round two against Milos Raonic;
– American wildcards Stefan Kozlov, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul;
– Chung Hyeon, who had a decent week in Montreal, where he defeated Feliciano Lopez and David Goffin before losing to Adrian Mannarino. Incidentally, he opens against Lopez again this week in Cincinnati;
– Karen Khachanov, who has a brutal draw facing Montreal quarter-finalist Diego Schwartzman in round one before a potential second round with Federer.
With so much focus on veterans like Nadal and Federer, and NextGen stars like Zverev, whatever happened to the generation in between?
Players like Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori (and Grigor Dimitrov were meant to be the ones taking on the baton from the ‘Big Four’. But as they’ve all crossed the 25-year-old threshold, none of them have managed to win a Masters 1000 title so far in their careers, and collectively, they’ve won two titles in 2017 – both claimed by Dimitrov.
With the US Open two weeks away, can the ‘LostGen’ shoot their way into contention?
1 – Cincinnati title for Nadal in 11 previous appearances. Was champion in 2013.
1 – non-Big Four member has won Cincinnati in the last 10 years – Cilic in 2016.
2 – former Cincinnati champions are in the draw – Nadal and Federer.
7 – times Federer has won Cincinnati. Has a 42-8 win-loss record there.
10 — consecutive wins for Alexander Zverev entering Cincinnati.
30 – Masters 1000 titles won by Nadal – a record he shares with Djokovic.
Swiss star Roger Federer outclassed Roberto Bautista Agut as he inched closer to his sixth title of the season with a 6-4, 6-4 win in the quarter-finals of the Montreal Masters on Friday.
Federer hammered five aces, made just two double faults and won 81 percent of his first serve points in the 68-minute centre court match. He dominated at the net, winning 21 of 25 points.
“It pays off playing aggressively here in Montreal, plus I feel comfortable at net, so why not spend some time there instead of slugging it out from the baseline,” Federer said.
“I think I did a good job again, even though it was tough to control the ball. I got some decent rhythm going.”
Federer advances to the semi-finals where he will face Robin Haase of the Netherlands, who defeated Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 earlier in the day.
Bautista Agut struggled on his serve as he was broken three times and won just 65 percent of his first serve points.
“Today, I felt that I didn’t get into the rhythm of the match and I didn’t feel the ball well,” he said. “Roger plays very fast and he didn’t want to rally with me, so he went for his shots.”
Federer posted his seventh consecutive win over the Spaniard and improved his season record to 34-2. He has a ATP Tour high five titles in 2017.
He will face Dutchman Haas in just the second career meeting between the two.
The pair met in a Davis Cup World Group play-off in 2012 with Federer winning 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Federer’s chances of winning another title this season were given a boost when top seed Rafael Nadal was upset by world No. 143 Denis Shapovalov of Canada on Thursday night.
Shapovalov, who needed a wild card to gain entry into the tournament, continued his cinderella run Friday by rallying to beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Mannarino became the fourth established ATP player this week to fall at the hands of the 18-year-old lefthanded Canadian.
Shapovalov’s win over Mannarino came just 24 hours after he defeated 10-time French Open champion Nadal to get into the quarters. Shapovalov also upset former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round.
Shapovalov started slowly by dropping the first set before settling into the match in the second. After a rain delay, Shapovalov broke Mannarino to take a 4-2 lead in the second set. Her served out the set in the ninth game.
– Shapovalov rolls on -“It’s tough to come out and serve after a 12-minute rain delay. I knew that was a very big turning point,” Shapovalov said. “When I broke him, I got that little bit of confidence, and I started believing in my shots again.”
Haase rallied after losing the opening set to improve to 5-0 all-time against Schwartzman.
Haase has had to overcome several injuries in his career but says he is finally in a good place.
“I wasn’t the player I was before my injury,” Haase said.
“I was not as fast. I was insecure. I had a lot of problems with other injuries after. Then this kind of eats you up inside mentally. It drains you because you know you can do better.
“I’ve been working on it a lot in the past few years. I started to believe more and more again. My game is better.”
Fourth seeded Alexander Zverev defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in straight sets 7-5, 6-4 to set up a clash of rising stars with Shapovalov.
Zverev, 20, is the youngest player ranked in the top 20 in the world and Shapovalov became the youngest since 1990 to reach the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000 event.