By Jake Davies
- The 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championships exhibition starts next week with some of the world’s best players in action.
- Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal are among six players playing the event.
ABU DHABI, UAE – Tennis is on its way! The new season starts with the invitational Mubadala World Tennis Championships with World No. 1 Andy Murray back in action.
Murray returns to the court after standout 2016 season.
One of the big talking points of this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championships exhibition is Andy Murray and how he will start his preparation for an important 2017 season. Recently we saw Murray win 25 matches in a row en-route to a Year End No.1 ranking and his best season by far on the ATP tour at the age of 29.
The 2016 Wimbledon champion is back to his devastating best having had a long spell where he struggled to come to terms with beating the likes of Novak Djokovic. The big wins over Djokovic in London in November and in the Rome Masters final signified that Murray is in a great mental state right now.
Murray is one of the elite players so he will be seeking more Grand Slams to add to his collection starting with the Australian Open in January. This exhibition event in Abu Dhabi provides the perfect preparation for the beginning of the season as it allows players to ease their way into a busy schedule while also getting match practice against the very best players in the world. So, as much as players will not be desperate to win the event, they will hope for a good number of matches under their belt moving into January.
Murray will face either David Goffin or Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-final after receiving a bye for the first round. On the other side of the draw is a familiar foe, Milos Raonic, who also gets a bye as the second seed. Raonic could face Rafael Nadal or Tomas Berdych in his respective semi-final on Friday 30th of December.
Rafael Nadal’s first match since October
Another exciting prospect will be welcoming Nadal on a tennis court once again. He called his season short following a persistent wrist injury that derailed a lot of his 2016 season. The Spaniard has just hired former World No.1 player Carlos Moya as one of his new coaches, which suggests that Nadal is hellbent on returning to the higher echelons of the men’s game in 2017.
It’s been nearly three years since Nadal made the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament, but the Moya appointment shows a lot of intent; he assisted Milos Raonic in his rise to No.3 in the rankings this season. If Nadal can remain healthy and his body doesn’t break down over the course of the season then there is no reason why he can’t push for one or two more majors. Whether his body allows him to make one last challenge is another question that will be answered in 2017.
Last year’s finalist Raonic returns for a second stint
Big-serving Canadian and Wimbledon finalist Raonic returns to the Mubadala World Tennis Championships for a second year. Raonic will be hoping to absorb all the information that experienced coach Riccardo Piatti and Moya has given him inside the last twelve months in his journey to Grand Slam success.
It can be argued that Raonic is the closest to singles major success outside of Murray and Djokovic, with 2017 being a huge season for the Canadian in the grand scheme of things. A win over a player like Nadal or Murray in this exhibition would start his season on the right note going into his first season as a Top 3 player in the world.
The Mubadala World Tennis Champsionhips start on 29 December.
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