Monday, December 26, 2011
Five reasons why I'm psyched for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship
Abu Dhabi is two days away from hosting its fourth Mubadala World Tennis Championship, and there are a ton of reasons why you should be excited if you're here, and jealous if you're not. Here are the top five reasons why I'm psyched for this tournament...
Obvious reason #1 - The unrivaled field
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils... These six players are present at the same tournament about 13 times a year, but that's usually in 64+ player draws where the attention is divided across so many players, the early rounds can feature matches you don't necessarily want to see (not me of course), and you have to wait to the quarters before you get a match-up like Tsonga v Nadal or Djokovic v Ferrer. In Abu Dhabi, you get six of the most talented players in the world taking centre stage throughout the three days, and you get a day 1 match like Djokovic v Monfils and Ferrer v Tsonga. With the winners moving on to face Nadal or Federer. That kind of class and quality is unmatched anywhere outside the ATP Tour/Grand Slams and to think you have two matches per day of such standard is just too exciting. It's like you skipped out on the early rounds of a Masters Series and fast-forwarded to Friday, where all the juicy stuff really begins.
Obvious reason #2 - The perfect timing
The tournament is at a pretty strategic timing if you ask me. We're all having tennis withdrawals, the players have all just spent at least a couple of weeks getting over any niggles or injuries and preparing for the new season, and all six of them will be looking to test themselves before heading to Australia. This is way better than having an exhibition event mid-season where the players are exhausted and could easily pull out a day before it begins because they picked up an injury and need to recuperate before the following week.
Obvious reason #3 - The exhibition factor
While there's no doubt the players need this tournament to figure out where they stand heading into 2012, the fact that it's an exhibition will allow them to swing freely, hit big, take risks and try new things, all which mean we're in for a treat. There'll be autograph sessions, player clinics, and a Kids Q&A session scattered in between some spectacular tennis. The access to what I personally consider the royalty of tennis is just too good to be true in this event. Not to mention $250k are up for grabs which let's face it, is quite an incentive for just three days of work. I repeat, we're in for a treat!
Obvious reason #4 - The weather
It's times like these where I forget for a few seconds the unbearable bouts of heat we get during the long summers of the UAE. The weather right now in Abu Dhabi is just phenomenal. This is the climate created for playing tennis, watching tennis, and everything related to tennis. It's the time of the year where being indoors is basically sinful. I've been talking to many players who have been training in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this month and the consensus is: you can't get weather like this right now without getting on a plane for 20 hours. It's no wonder they're all here!
Obvious reason #5 - The revisited rivalries
We have a chance to see Federer v Djokovic on day 2, followed by Federer v Nadal or Djokovic v Nadal on day 3. With Federer coming off his best season finish ever (according to him), Djokovic coming off his best season ever, and Nadal being the two-time defending champion, it's safe to say these matches are gonna be no friendlies. Nadal will want to post at least one win over Djokovic after losing to him six straight times in 2011, while Federer will be looking to pick up where he left off - which was winning three straight titles to finish the season. That's not to forget Tsonga, who besides Federer and Andy Murray, had an incredibly strong last quarter of the season himself. Between September and now, Tsonga made the US Open quarters, won Metz and Vienna, and made the finals of Paris and London (losing both to Federer). Could we see a third straight final between the Frenchman and Federer? Por que no?
MWTC schedule at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City:
3pm Ferrer v Tsonga
Not before 5pm Djokovic v Monfils
3pm Federer v (winner of Djokovic v Monfils)
Not before 5pm Nadal v (winner of Ferrer v Tsonga)
3pm Third place play-off
Not before 5pm Final
Check here for detailed schedule with autograph session timings ...