Fans at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship have their say on Serena Williams' return to the court in the first-ever women's match at the tournament.
The legendary American made her first appearance since becoming a mother against rising star Jelena Ostapenko at the Zayed Sports City venue in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Dominic Thiem has confirmed that Spaniard Galo Blanco will be travelling with him in 2018, sharing coaching duties with Gunter Bresnik.
Blanco, who ended his four-year partnership with Russian NextGen star Karen Khachanov last month, also previously worked with Milos Raonic.
Thiem, the current world No. 5, says he spent his preseason in Tenerife accompanied by Blanco, and they were on the practice courts together here in Abu Dhabi.
“He was already with me in Tenerife, and the tournaments where Gunter is not going, he’s going with me,” Thiem said on Saturday, after defeating Pablo Carreno Busta in straights in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
“Or basically he’s at every tournament until the clay-court season. Some he’s sharing with Gunter, the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami. He’s a really, really good coach and I’m happy that I’m travelling with him as well.”
World No. 7 Jelena Ostapenko is "excited" to face Serena Williams for the first time, the Roland Garros champion told reporters ahead of her exhibition match with the American superstar, taking place in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (17:00 local time).
The Latvian youngster, who pulled off one of the biggest surprises of 2017 when she upset Simona Halep to win the French Open last June, has long admired Williams and the pair have never faced each other on tour.
Williams, 36, is set to make her first appearance in almost a year. The 23-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played a match since winning the Australian Open last January, and had her first child, Alexis Olympia, in September.
"I’m really honoured to play Serena in her first match after her comeback and I think it’s such a great opportunity," Ostapenko said at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) on Friday.
"She was my idol when I was growing up and I really liked the style she was playing and I think she’s very big for women’s tennis.