Murray, who beat the Serbian Novak Djokovic in straight sets to clinch the ATP World Tour title, has received a bye to the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship which takes place December 29 – 31 2016 at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City.
Murray will face the winner of the tournament’s opening match between Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Belgian David Goffin when he makes his first appearance on-court at the ninth MWTC.
The Scot will return to Abu Dhabi for a fifth time and he says now is the time for rest before turning his attention to Abu Dhabi.
“I’m now taking some time to rest before shifting focus to the next season, which for me starts in Abu Dhabi,” said Murray. “I’ve played Tsonga and Goffin a couple of times this season and I know that a final for me in Abu Dhabi certainly isn’t a given.
“I’ll be watching their day one match closely to see what game they’ve brought to the tournament as players tend to try new things there.
“It’s a chance to experiment and put what you’ve been working on in the off-season to the test against some great players, which is what makes it such an exciting tournament.”
Murray was also quick to thank UAE fans for their support, one reason for his return to Abu Dhabi.
“I receive a lot of comments from fans on social media asking me to come back to Abu Dhabi each year. Tennis fans in the UAE are always so supportive when I play, and they have a real passion for the sport,” he said.
“One of the things I know that all the players enjoy about the tournament is being able to meet fans and spend time with promising young players away from the action on centre court as well.”
The former World No.5 and 2008 Australian Open runner-up made a whistle-stop visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday to support the draw for the ninth edition of the prestigious event, which takes place at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City, from December 29-31.
Tsonga, 31, has endured a difficult season through injury but is now fully fit and ready to start his pre-season training as early as next week in preparation for 2017.
And, after lending a helping hand to stars of the future as part of the Mubadala Tennis in Schools programme, the two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist was drawn against Belgian debutant David Goffin in his first match in the UAE next month.
The opening day also witnesses the mouth-watering prospect of three-time MWTC champion and 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal play long-time rival Tomas Berdych.
New World No.1 Andy Murray and No. 4 Milos Raonic received byes until day two, when they will face the winners of day one on December 30. The finals will take place on December 31 to conclude the year and the tournament in style.
Former world No5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a surprise pit stop in Abu Dhabi on Monday where he helped unveil the draw for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC), which he kicks off against his good friend David Goffin this December.
Tsonga, set to make his fifth appearance at the season-opening showpiece in the UAE capital, is part of a strong six-player field that will grace centre court at Zayed Sports City from December 29 to 31, headlined by world No1 Andy Murray.
Murray and world No4 Milos Raonic are the top seeds in Abu Dhabi and have a bye in the opening round. Day one will feature Tsonga’s match against Goffin followed by a mouth-watering clash between three-time MWTC champion Rafael Nadal and returning Czech Tomas Berdych.
The winner of the showdown between Tsonga and Goffin will go on to square off against Murray in the semi-finals on day two while the victor from the other day one encounter will play Raonic.
Nadal not being seeded this year could actually mean good news for the Spaniard’s fans as he could end up competing on all three days of the MWTC should he win his opening match.
Tsonga is looking forward to ringing the New Year in the capital and had some words of advice to his Belgian pal Goffin, who will be making his tournament debut.
“David is a very good friend, we spend a lot of time on tour together so it’s going to be funny to tell him that we’re going to play each other in the first round,” Tsonga said yesterday.
“I think the advice I would give him is to be prepared because all the guys when they come here they really want to test their tennis and they play full tennis and it’s a competition that is hard to win – I know because I’ve never won it, and I’m looking for it.”
This year’s MWTC represents the ninth edition of the Abu Dhabi spectacle that has gone from strength to strength since its inception. The six players taking part fight for a winner-takes-all prize of $250,000 and use the tournament as the ultimate warm-up for the Australian Open that commences just two weeks after the action here.
“For me it’s not an exhibition,” insists Tsonga. “An exhibition is something were you try to do something to have fun and that’s it. But when we play here at the Mubadala, we all play seriously because we want to see how we are compared to the other players because we’re preparing for the Australian Open.
“And most of the time the player who wins the tournament here finishes in the top-three at the end of the year except maybe last year with Rafa because he had an injury and it was difficult. I think it’s important to play well here.”
The tournament, owned by FLASH Entertainment, organised by IMG and sponsored by Mubadala, prides itself on its extensive community programmes that aim to get as many youngsters and residents engaged in tennis.
The Mubadala Community Cup sees hundreds of players across all age groups competing in local tournaments with the winners earning spots in clinics with one of the six stars of the MWTC. The Mubadala Tennis in Schools programme visits local and international schools across the UAE where they provide training for PE teachers, equipment and know-how to spread the love for the sport.
The UAE Cup sees the top Emirati players compete for a chance to play doubles with the contestants of the fifth-place playoff on day two of the MWTC.
Tickets for the MWTC start at Dh50 and can be found at www.ticketmaster.ae.
For more information visit www.mubadalawtc.com and www.facebook.com/mubadalaworldtennischampionship.com.