The top two tennis players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, have both confirmed their attendance at January's Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Acting as a precursor to the new season, Mubadala has developed a reputation of attracting the very best tennis stars in the world to participate in their six-player event at Zayed Sports City.
And it appears the 2015 edition, which will take place between Janury 1-3, is no different as Nadal and Djokovic both announce their presence at the tournament.
Making his debut in Abu Dhabi in 2011, current world number 1 Novak Djokovic has never lost a match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and will be looking to continue his successful run to secure an unprecedented fourth tournament title.
Most recently Djokovic secured his seventh Grand Slam title with an impressive victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon and with it, reclaim the No1 ranking for the first time since September 2013.
“Abu Dhabi has always been very good to me and of course I was keen to return and defend my title," Djokovic said. "The tournament draws the world’s top players and it is crucial for us to keep pushing and testing ourselves against each other, especially at the start of a new season.
"We’re more than half way through the year now and with one major secured I feel that I am on track for a memorable year but there is plenty more work to be done before we catch that flight to the UAE.
"Celebrating the New Year in Abu Dhabi will be very special this time around and I’m hopeful of starting 2015 in the best possible way – with a victory at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.”
Djokovic could be in line to face rival Nadal in the Mubadala final after the Spaniard revealed he would kick-start his season in Abu Dhabi.
Although the world No2 has not lifted the tournament’s trophy since 2011, he has enjoyed a series of important triumphs, securing five major titles in that time, including victory at this year’s French Open.
“The standards are always high in Abu Dhabi, the crowds are fantastic and there is a real buzz around the city so returning was an easy decision to make," Nadal said from his home in Majorca.
"It’s the perfect place to start the year and although there is still a long way to go in this current season, we have to plan ahead and make sure we give ourselves to best opportunities to start the year strong.
"For me that would be playing the Mubadala World Tennis Championships where all top players want to play. I hope this year I can win!"
The unique combination of a ‘winner takes all’ prize of $250,000, the world’s best players and a Championship format that is the equivalent of a Grand Slam quarter-final, guarantee explosive performances and attacking tennis to thrill crowds on centre court.
In addition to top-class tennis, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship boasts exciting off-court action in the Tennis Village, where players can be found coaching tennis clinics and signing autographs.
Mubadala will continue as title sponsor of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in 2015. Their support has helped the tournament develop to its current position as one of the region’s premier sporting events.
Tickets for January’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship are on sale from midday, 22nd July at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Mega Stores or by calling 800 TM UAE (86 823).
Prices start from AED 50 for upper bowl seating, with exclusive premier hospitality packages also available including food and beverage offers, star player meet and greets and premier stadium seating.
F1® ticket holders redeeming their Y1 Access benefits will benefit from a 20% discount on Category 2 tickets. Y1 Access is the money off advantage programme for buyers of tickets to the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and extends across a selection of major FLASH concerts and events from the time of purchase until February 2015.
Pierre-Antoine Dumas was crowned the men’s singles winner of the inaugural Ritz-Carlton Dubai Open Tennis Tournament when he easily overcame Carlos Luna in the finals 6-1, 6-2.
Organised by Super Sports Events and sanctioned by the UAE Tennis Federation, this past weekend saw the culmination of the tournament.
Dumas never looked like being the runner-up, with his consistent powerful groundstrokes and big forehand, as he wrapped up the first set in no time. Luna tried to change things up in the second but Dumas broke Luna’s serve two more times to triumph.
Agnus Anwar, after an 11-year layoff from competitive tournaments, proved that there is no substitute for experience when she won the ladies’ singles title against Simran Noronha.
By slowing the game down and mixing the rallies up with drop shots, Anwar frustrated the hardhitting Noronha, to take a well deserved win 6-2, 6-3.
Amr Hazem and George Green walked away with the men’s doubles trophies by defeating Mohamed Hussein and Kenneth Cauwenbergh 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Alvaro Bueno won the boys’ U14 singles against Ralph Rached 6-2, 6-1 while Anaya Singh was made to work hard for her girls’ U14 singles title, beating Hanah Salah 6-1, 6-4.
In the boys’ under 18 singles, Mujahid Khan was pushed all the way by Alex Smith to be crowned champion, winning the match 7-5, 6-4.
“It was a great tournament with many close and exciting matches,” said tournament organiser Florian Pisacreta. “All players are asking for us to organise more tournaments for them to compete in so it gives us good motivation to organise another as we know they all enjoyed playing in it.”
Over Dh30,000 worth of prizes were awarded to the event winners.
The UAE suffered the agony of relegation after they lost their in Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group III playoff 2-1 against Turkmenistan in Tehran on Saturday.
Fighting to remain in Group III, the Emiratis enjoyed a good start when Hamad Janahi rallied back to beat Georgiy Pochay 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, before UAE No1 Omar Behroozian then fell to Aleksandr Ernepesov 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Janahi and Behroozian teamed up in the decisive doubles rubber and had six set points in the opening set against Pochay and Ernepesov but ended up losing the match and the relegation tie 7-6, 6-4.
“We were a bit unlucky. Hamad won his singles match 6-2 in the final set and I lost mine 6-1 in the final set. So both matches were really tight,” Behroozian told Sport360.
“We had six set points in the first set of the doubles and we knew the opening set was crucial because all four of us on the court had already played singles, but we knew fatigue would catch up with us.
"But credit to them, they played really on those set points.”
The defeat means the UAE will be playing in Group IV next season after spending the past two years in Group III.
Behroozian has been representing the UAE in Davis Cup since 1996 and has taken part in over 70 ties.
The 32-year-old, who briefly dabbled with retirement in 2012, says he is keen on continuing to play on next season but hopes the younger UAE generation – like Abdulrahman Janahi and Soud Al Ali – can step up to help share the Davis Cup duties next year.
“It’s normal to be disappointed, but we want to bounce back next year, there’s no doubt about that,” said Behroozian. “Secondly, sometimes disappointment and losses in sport are a good thing. Sometimes losing makes people act more. There’s always a silver lining.
“At the end of the day we deserved to get relegated this year because we felt the other teams for one reason or another were more accustomed to the conditions here than we were.
“We almost pulled it off but overall in the tournament they deserved it more than us. We have to accept it and keep working hard.
“I’m not going stop anytime soon," he added. "I’m really enjoying it. In Davis Cup, there’s still a long way to go. I think I had a very good year this year and I’m looking forward to having another good one."