Top stars delight capital’s crowds with world number one and two in action on Friday
Four of the world’s greatest tennis players treated UAE fans to an incredible evening of sporting theatre as world number three David Ferrer and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga powered to straight set victories in an action packed opening night of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
In the first match of the three day tournament, world number three David Ferrer demonstrated his on court prowess to outmuscle one of the stars of the 2013 season, Stanislas Warinka, 7-5, 6-1.
The win saw Ferrer kick start his season in style, although the early exchanges showed the gulf between the top stars remains tight as the majority of the first set went with serve. 2013 was a landmark year for the Spaniard and he showed every intention of maintaining his form with a patient build up before securing a late break point to take the set.
The second set was a different story altogether as the third seed showed every inch of the class which has seen him cement his status as one of the world’s finest sporting stars. Powering to a 5-0 lead, it was only through sheer tenacity that Wawrinka was able to salvage a game from the set which finished 6-1; Ferrer’s accuracy and patience proved too much for the Swiss as the crowds were treated to some sublime strokes and powerful winners in the hour long match.
Speaking after his victory in Abu Dhabi, David Ferrer said: “The first set was very tough and I didn’t play my best, I think it was a lack of concentration. After that, the match turned and Stan probably didn’t play his best: he seemed to lose a bit of focus. I was happy with my game though.”
The crowd was barely afforded time to catch their breath before the second session got underway on the immaculate centre court with Wimbledon champion Andy Murray making his highly anticipated comeback from injury against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Murray showed a varied selection of his skills repertoire with powerful aces and targeted passing shots. However, Tsonga wasn’t ready to grant the Scot a fairytale return and was quick to test his fitness through a spectacular array of drop shots, lobs and wide line-finders, eventually securing victory, 7-5, 6-3, in 72 minutes.
After hard fought tussles in the opening games, the crowd could only applaud as Tsonga found an extra gear to break his opponent and take the first set. Murray was defiant early in the second set, breaking straight back to take an early lead but despite a hugely enjoyable display, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship’s inaugural champion was unable to squeeze past the authoritative world number ten.
Speaking after his win, Tsonga said:
“I’m very happy as the most important thing for me is to see how I am feeling physically and today was good. I was pleased with every part of my game. It’s not every day you beat Andy in two sets so I’m really happy. Andy’s just back from injury and I know how tough it can be but he is a champion and will keep improving.”
Day two of the three-day ‘winner takes-all’ competition will see all six top players in action on the same day for the first time in the tournament’s history. At 12.30pm Murray and Wawrinka will showdown in the inaugural 5th/6th place play-off before world number one Rafael Nadal makes his highly anticipated return to the UAE capital in an all-Spanish encounter with world number three Ferrer. At 5pm reigning champion Novak Djokovic will make his 2013 Abu Dhabi debut against Tsonga, the pair set to battle it out for a spot in the final.
Ahead of his title defence world number two, Djokovic, who has recently appoint former Grand Slam Champion Boris Becker to his coaching team, said: “Even though we haven’t officially stepped into 2014 we consider this event the start of the season.”
“Boris will be here so you are going to see him in Abu Dhabi. I respect everything he has achieved in his career and I hope working together can bring success for both of us.”
Tickets for tomorrow’s games are now completely sold out but limited seats are available for Day 3 which will see the third and fourth play-off start at 3pm will the finale of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship soon after. For fans that don’t want to miss out on the tournament’s strongest line-up yet, tickets are on sale from www.ticketmaster.ae and in selected Virgin Megastores, or call 800 TM UAE (800 86 823) with prices starting from AED 50 for children and AED 100 for adults.
For more information visit www.mubadalawtc.com