Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will renew their rivalry in Abu Dhabi (Supplied photo)
Abu Dhabi - Berdych, Tsonga, Raonic and Goffin to play as well
By KT Report
Published: Mon 7 Nov 2016, 1:32 PM
Last updated: Mon 7 Nov 2016, 10:03 PM
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has confirmed that his return to competitive play will start in Abu Dhabi this December after taking his place in the stellar line-up for the 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championship, a Press release said. The season-opening tournament in the UAE capital has long been a favourite of the Spaniard with the Abu Dhabi crowds treated to his iconic style seven times since the tournament launched in 2009. Joining Nadal and completing the six-strong line-up for this year's competition are Belgian number one David Goffin, and Czech giant Tomas Berdych who have also booked their places in the capital. With an established reputation as one of the UAE's unmissable events, the upcoming edition, running from 29-31 December will have fans on the edge of their seats, featuring one of the strongest line-ups to date, with all players being ranked within the top 12 in the world. The intensity is set to be high, with three-time winner Nadal returning to defend his crown against current world number one and three time grand slam champion, Andy Murray, French power house Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Canadian superstar Milos Raonic, Goffin and Berdych.
John Lickrish, CEO at FLASH Entertainment, added, "The Mubadala World Tennis Championship continues to deliver world-class players and the line-up for 2016 is true testament to the tournament's legacy of hosting exceptional sportsmen. Not only do we have one of the world's greatest tennis players - Rafael Nadal returning, but also the newly crowned world number one Andy Murray, building to the star power for this year." Victory at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at the very start of this season gave the Spanish sensation the springboard he needed after recovering from injury at the end of 2015. Following his winning performance in Abu Dhabi the former world number one reached the semi-finals or final of the first four ATP World Tour events in the early part of 2016 before winning his first masters of the season in Monaco in April this year. After a strong start this season, the Mallorcan will be looking for more of the same for 2017, honing his skills against the best in the sport today at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City this December.
Speaking on his return to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Nadal said: "I really enjoy the fans, the competition and the atmosphere in the stadium in Abu Dhabi. It is the best way to start my season. I've enjoyed many years playing in the UAE capital against the other top guys and I'm already looking forward to the next. After playing in Abu Dhabi I went on to play some great matches on the tour at the start of the year and I'll be hoping for even better this time." After most recently winning the Shenzhen Open in China, former world number four Tomas Berdych will make a return appearance at the tournament this year after competing in Abu Dhabi in 2011 and 2012. Berdych, who enjoyed victories over both Nadal and Raonic in his 2015 season is definitely no stranger to high profile encounters and will be more than happy to cause an upset at this year's outing. Berdych said, "I'm really excited to be competing at this year's Mubadala World Tennis Championship - It has become so popular with some of the world's top players and having experienced the competition twice before in its earlier stages I can't wait to get back. For me this will be the perfect way to start the 2017 season and I'm looking forward to spending my new year playing some serious tennis and meeting fans in Abu Dhabi." Joining Nadal and Berdych is the in-form youngster David Goffin. The 25-year-old player who made his breakthrough in 2012 is currently at the top of his game, reaching his highest ever ranking of world number 11 this week. Competing for the first time in the Middle East may be something new for Goffin, but coming up against the likes of Murray, Tsonga and Raonic will be a familiarity after beating both the Frenchman and the Canadian last season. Speaking ahead of his debut in the UAE capital, Goffin said, "It's going to be amazing to compete in Abu Dhabi and I am really proud to be selected amongst such a world class line-up. I've heard great things about the quality of the tournament and I can't wait to experience the atmosphere and the fans in this part of the world. The competition is going to be very strong and it's a great time of year to be playing tennis of such a high standard." In the 'winner takes all' format of the championship, the victor will claim $250,000 in prize money after battling it out in the New Years' Eve final. In addition to the enthralling play, fans will be offered sensational off-court activities in the Tennis Village where they can interact with players via autograph signings and coaching clinics. Designed to be the ultimate family activity ground, the Tennis Village adds to the exceptional event atmosphere of Mubadala World Tennis Championship to ensure there is plenty of room to catch the fast-paced tennis action as well as get up close and personal with the players. Tickets to the 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championship start from AED 50 for Category 2 seating. For further information please visit www.yasalam.ae