Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka to make first appearance in six months at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

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Look who's coming back: Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka will make their long-awaited return to tennis at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) in Abu Dhabi this December, the tournament announced on Tuesday.

Both players have not played since Wimbledon and pulled the plug early on their respective 2017 seasons, with Djokovic taking a break from the game to nurse a lingering elbow problem while Wawrinka underwent knee surgery.

The pair join Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Pablo Carreno Busta in the landmark 10th edition of the MWTC, taking place at Zayed Sports City from December 28 — 30.

Djokovic, who welcomed his second child and first daughter — named Tara — in September, is a three-time champion in Abu Dhabi but his last appearance at the event saw him hand Andy Murray a walkover in the final of the January 2015 edition.

“I am extremely excited to return to Abu Dhabi for the fifth time and take part in the 10th edition of the Championship,” said Djokovic.

“It is a huge honour to take part in such a special tournament. The line-up is very strong as always and it will be the perfect way to make my comeback and begin the season. Abu Dhabi is an amazing place and this is going to be a great event for all of the fans.”

Wawrinka, who had a second surgery on his knee in August, will be making his fifth MWTC appearance.

β€œIt is always a pleasure to kick the season off at the beautiful event in Abu Dhabi,” said the Swiss.

β€œThe fans are amazing there and the draw is as strong as always with a lot of great players. My recovery is going well and I can’t wait to be back on court. I’m working hard together with my team and looking forward to being back.”

To celebrate the 10th edition, MWTC will be giving those who purchase tickets in the next ten days, a chance to win signed merchandise by either Wawrinka or Djokovic.

Tickets for the MWTC are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE. For more information, visit: www.mubadalawtc.com.

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Pablo Carreno Busta joins Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic in Mubadala World Tennis Championship line-up

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On the rise: Pablo Carreno Busta.

US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta was announced as the fourth player set to take part in this December’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship, the tournament announced on Monday.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, who has broken into the top-10 for the first time following his US Open exploits earlier this month, joins world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 7 Dominic Thiem and No. 11 Milos Raonic in what is shaping up to be an exciting line-up for the Abu Dhabi showpiece.

Carreno Busta will be making his first appearance at the event that is scheduled to take place from December 28-30, 2017.

The Gijon-native is enjoying a breakthrough season where he picked up a third career title, in Estoril, and made his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in New York.

Carreno Busta also reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, the semi-finals at Indian Wells and the final of the Rio Open.

He also claimed his first ever victory against a top-10 player by defeating Raonic in the French Open fourth round in June.

Tickets for the landmark 10th edition of the MWTC are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE. For more information, visit: www.mubadalawtc.com.

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Judy Murray set to bring Miss-Hits programme to the UAE

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Dubai-based academy Tennis 360 has joined forces with Judy Murray, mother of tennis superstars Andy and Jamie Murray, to bring her popular Miss-Hits programme to the UAE later this year.

Judy, the former Great Britain Fed Cup captain, who coached both her sons in their formative years and has of course seen both Andy and Jamie go on to lift Wimbledon titles among many other triumphs, is excited to bring her Miss-Hits concept to the Middle East region.

Miss-Hits was founded by Judy in association with the Lawn Tennis Association to make tennis more welcoming and exciting for girls aged between five and eight – and ultimately attract more young girls and female coaches to get involved with the game.

Now, in partnership withΒ with UAE-based Tennis 360, a world-class tennis academy at Meydan headed by Business Development Director Gwen Sproule, Miss-Hits is set to expand its reach and help to boost participation among girls across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Later this summer, Judy will visit Dubai to see Miss-Hits and Tennis 360 combine to offer a range of sessions.

Tennis 360 will launch the programme at Dubai Sports World – a popular indoor training facility set up each summer at Dubai World Trade Center.

Indeed, parents can look forward to enrolling their children in programmes that are designed to deliver fun, girly and colourful tennis lessons – with the aim of being non-forceful introductions into the sport’s basics.

In the very near future, the Tennis 360 academy is going to start running Miss-Hits sessions.Β Full details on the course options in the UAE will be released soon.

“With Tennis 360’s help, we are going to get a feel for the Miss-Hits programme in the UAE over the next few months and I’m looking forward to coming out to train some coaches later this summer,” Judy told Sport360.

“The whole reason I set Miss-Hits up was because it was a problem and concern that not enough girls were playing the sport at entry level so we have programmes that are attractive and easy to learn.”

Having coached across the length and breadth of the sport for over 20 years – Judy knows a thing or to about the challenges of getting girls playing tennis and how to keep them there.

For those kids looking to play the game – they may not know the Serena Williams’ and Maria Sharapovas of this world – but, instead – Judy designed interactive tennis characters to help them learn the principles of the game, shots and scoring-systems.

Indeed, ‘Selena Serve’, ‘Bella Backhand’ and ‘Valentina Volley’ are names that stand out and children associate them with the shot they are playing.

These characters, in situ with the practical Miss-Hits sessions that come in two separate six-week chunks and a supplementary online app that supports tennis play, have already helped hundreds of girls take up tennis in the UK.

“Girls love being with their friends – it’s critical that there’s a girls’ only option for them with Miss-Hits, because so often, tennis is played in mixed groups,” said Judy.

“Boys are more noisy, physical and competitive than girls and more often than not – that puts girls off and is intimidating. With Miss-Hits, we’ve put together all the things little girls like to do in one, cuddly toys, cartoon characters, being with their friends, pinks and purples and so forth – are all added to the skill-building activities that are needed to play tennis.

“Gwen and her team saw it as a really good fit and the ultimate goal is to obviously get more girls playing tennis but to create a product here that encourages more women to take part in the programmeΒ – and you don’t need any technical qualification to teach it.

“You just need an aptitude and desire to work with children. I think also in the UAE there are very few female coaches so this product might encourage some mums, students, older students, PE and primary school teachers to actually say ‘here’s a nice simple product to teach and help get more people involved with tennis’.”

For a region blessed with near perfect weather all-year round besides the hot summer time, Murray feels there is tremendous potential to deliver Miss-Hits and make a big impact.

Murray also feels that Miss-Hits is not only a great opportunity for young girls to play tennis – it’s also a fantastic chance to get more female coaches involved and working in the UAE.

‘The facilities here are great and the ambition, with Tennis 360 too, is to get more girls playing tennis. It’s about beingΒ contemporary and trying to give girls what they want – if they don’t do that – they will find something else to do that is more appealing.

“We want more girls playing tennis in their own backyard, it’s about getting them in and retaining their love for tennis.”

Judy, who has watched son Andy – in particular, the world’s number one ranked player – handle the attention of the media spotlight since he was a teenager and taste success of the highest orderΒ – is well aware of how important role models are for youngsters coming through in the sport.

Although she maintains examples of success and professionalism are critical for young children to admire – the 57-year-old believes there has to be a basis of which to build from where young girls and players are sticking to tennis – before their mid-teens where so often than not many branch off into other areas.

She said: “In the UK, we’re very fortunate we now haveΒ Johanna Konta as a contender at major events and she is a driving force in British tennis. Role models are one thing but any sport is only good as it’s grassroots so if somebody watches Wimbledon on television and are inspired, there needs to be a local facility in place where you can play and the activity can stimulate you.

“But I’m a big believer in role models as well to get more girls playing, especially in the UAE – it’s an area that needs more female tennis coaches. I think they are able to understand how to work with little girls so much better, the changes their bodies are going through and the way they start to react and respond to things – this can really help the retention of more girls playing tennis further down the line.

“I’m hoping the Miss-Hits programme can inspire more women to take up a possible coaching career and that can only be good for the game.”

The great news for tennis lovers in the UAE is that Miss-Hits is very much open to all – whether you’re a parent looking for a new activity for your little girl or interested in becoming a Miss-Hits coach – with their website providing full details of how you can get involved.

All equipment is provided at the sessions and prices vary – visit www.miss-hits.co.uk for more information.

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