I think we are in for a special few days in Abu Dhabi this year. The Mubadala World Championship is marking the return of four of the biggest names on tour in Nadal, Djokovic, Raonic and Wawrinka – it’s going to be some tournament!
The MWTC is the perfect warm up for these guys ahead of the Australian Open in January. In fact, I think several of them actually view it as an increasingly important part of their schedules and in my opinion, the courts have a lot to do with it. The courts at MWTC share similarities with those at Melbourne Park so if the players can get their timing during this tournament then it puts them in a nice position come January and the first Grand Slam of the year.
I think Rafa’s regularity at this tournament is the perfect illustration for how important its become. Last year Rafa came here and played some of the best tennis I’ve seen him play for 5 years. He hit the ball 20% harder and had that trademark fizz back on his grounds strokes. After seeing that you knew he’d be in for a great year. Now back for his 9th year in 2017 I’m hoping he’ll have that same intensity and give the fans something to really shout about.
Likewise, Novak is back and I think he’ll be the one to watch throughout the tournament. Unlike a few of the others Novak didn’t have any surgery whilst he was injured; I’d compare the break he took to the one Federer took and we all know what kind of year he had!
Stan and Milos had some bigger setbacks so I expect them to ease themselves into the Mubadala Tennis World Championship. Although I’m sure we won’t have to wait too long for Stan’s thumping ground strokes and Milos’ trademark huge serve. The pair of them will have 8 MWTC appearances collectively. They know what it’s all about here and I’m sure they’ll turn up and give it everything they’ve got.
The match play aside, there are other reasons why all of the box office players turn out for the Mubadala Tennis World Championships every year. The sporting environment and the interaction players have with the fans here is something unique to this tournament. The guys really embrace the other aspects of being a tennis player and a hero to the locals in Abu Dhabi; they always lend a hand, give advice and participate in the clinics. This level of interaction puts this tournament right up there with the very best for me.