By Ros Satar
- Another class field for the season ‘opener’ to see in 2018
- Much anticipated return of Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka
- Eyes on World No. 1 Rafael Nadal after injury ended his year
ABU DHABI, UAE – It might be just before New Year, but the Mubadala World Tennis Championships is our first inkling of what the new tennis season might bring.
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If you have had your fill of the off-season and are itching for the action to start again, then look no further than the Mubadala World Tennis Championships which gets some of the world’s best off and running as the new season looms.
All eyes will be on Rafael Nadal after a knee injury halted his run in Paris and saw him lose his opener at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. Calling time to his season, he admitted he could not get ready in time for the season-ending finale, and the question is can he be ready in time for the new season? He benefits from a bye into the next round.
Also winging on on a bye is Novak Djokovic who receives his pass into the next round thanks to his ranking after Wimbledon, even though he called time on his season early. Djokovic returns with the addition of Radek Stepanek into his coaching time, and the team were keen to stress this was not the end of his collaboration with Andre Agassi.
This tournament really has the feel of the return of the walking wounded with Stan Wawrinka making his comeback after also ending his season in the summer. He starts against MWTC new-comer and US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.
The Swiss is light one coach though as Magnus Norman called time on their arrangement – something that came as a little bit of a shock to Wawrinka.
On the opposite side of the draw, Dominic Thiem does not look like taking things easy at the start of a new season, as he makes his debut against Milos Raonic, another from the missing-in-action list of 2017.
Since the tournament’s inaugural edition in 2009, no-one outside three of the Big Four have won it, Andy Murray winning twice, Djokovic three times, and Nadal four, including the last two editions. Roger Federer appeared in the first four editions, reaching the final in 2011.
To all intents and purposes the road to the Australian Open, for some of the world’s elite anyway, starts here.
The Mubadala World Tennis Championship takes place between 28-30 December.
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