With the start of the new season, Novak Djokovic will become the first of the top players to test his body after six months off with an elbow injury, when he takes to the courts today at the Mubadala ‘World Tennis Championships’, an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
It was a good start for me. The court here is similar to the ones in Australia and they use the same balls. I have worked hard on my game during the pre-season and to be able to put some of those things into a match situation and succeed, was a good feeling Kevin Anderson
The exhibition started yesterday with Roberto Bautista Agut defeating the Russian rising star Andrey Rublev 7-5 6-2 to reach the semi-finals where he will face the Serbian former world No.1 who, during his absence, has slipped down to 12th in the rankings.
It should prove a good test for Djokovic as the Spaniard is well known for being a gritty competitor as he showed against the power hitting of Rubley, soaking up the bazooka -like ground shots to slowly turn the match in his favour.
The second semi-final will feature Kevin Anderson against Dominic Thiem, Anderson having dispatched Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 7-6(2) in Thursday’s match.
“It was a good start for me. The court here is similar to the ones in Australia and they use the same balls. I have worked hard on my game during the pre-season and to be able to put some of those things into a match situation and succeed, was a good feeling,” the tall South African, ranked 14, said following his win over the player ranked four places above him.
The event will also see Serena Williams making her comeback against the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday. The American, who was last seen in action in Australia, is set on defending that title despite having given birth to her first child in September.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray held his first practice session at the Zayed Sports City after flying out to the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.
The three-time grand slam champion is working his way back from hip problems that, like Djokovic, have sidelined him since Wimbledon.
Murray is due to make his comeback at next week’s Brisbane International but aborted his plans to head to Australia giving rise to the possibility of him not making Brisbane in time.
However, it seems that his practice session with Jamie Delgado in Abu Dhabi has gone well giving heart to his fans that he will make it and be ready for the Australian Open which starts on January 15.
Bad news for Rafa Nadal fans as the world No.1 has withdrawn from Brisbane to give his knees more time to recover before he takes on the world at the first major of the season.