Jabeur replaces Raducanu in Abu Dhabi

Ons Jabeur has stepped in to replace Emma Raducanu at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship after the British No was forced to pull out of her exhibition match on Thursday against Belinda Bencic, having tested positive for COVID-19.

I was looking forward to making my return to competition at Abu Dhabi but I feel that I am yet not ready to compete at the highest level. It's disappointing to not take part this year, but I need to continue my preparation for the upcoming season. Dominic Thiem

The Tunisian is a late replacement for the US Open champion, organisers announced on Tuesday night.

Raducanu, 19, was scheduled to face Bencic, the Olympic gold medallist from Switzerland, in the one-off women’s match on Thursday but was forced to withdraw on Tuesday after experiencing mild symptoms of the virus.

Jabeur flew to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening to take part at the pre-season event at Zayed Sports City.

“See you soon in Abu Dhabi,” Jabeur, 27, tweeted.

Jabeur is the leading star of Arab tennis and will be a big attraction, having become the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year, as well as the first to win a WTA Tour title at Birmingham.

The World No 10, who reached a career-high No 7 this year, is the highest-ranked Arab player, female or male, in tennis history.

There were also two changes to the MWTC men’s tournament on Tuesday night, with Britain’s Dan Evans and American Taylor Fritz brought in to replace Austria’s former US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Norwegian World No 8 Casper Ruud.

Thiem has been sidelined with a wrist injury since June and the MWTC has come too soon for his return.

“I was looking forward to making my return to competition at Abu Dhabi but I feel that I am yet not ready to compete at the highest level,” Thiem said in a statement.

“It’s disappointing to not take part this year, but I need to continue my preparation for the upcoming season.

“I truly hope to return to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in the future.”

Fritz, the World No 23, and 25th-ranked Evans will join 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, former World No 1 Andy Murray, No 5 Andrey Rublev, and 14th-ranked Denis Shapovalov in the 6-player men’s field.


Sidelined by COVID, Emma Raducanu, the US Open champion, is the favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award on Sunday

© Elsa/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Raducanu says she is isolating in accordance with the rules, and hopes to be able to get back on the practice court soon.

Raducanu is on the six-strong shortlist for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award, and is the bookies’ favourite to win on Sunday, although she will not be present.

Despite her new-found fame, the teenager from Bromley insists not a lot has changed.

“I’m still going about my business,” she told tennis pundit Andrew Castle at the Royal Albert Hall. “I’m still taking the train and doing the same journeys.

“I feel like the exact same person and go about everything I used to do. I don’t see why I should change things.

“I’ve been a bit busy lately so I haven’t been able to hang out with my friends as much, but it’s just nice to have those conversations and go to the same places that you used to go.

“And I have my parents – who were telling me off yesterday morning, big time.”

The other SPOTY nominees are diver Tom Daley, boxer Tyson Fury, swimmer Adam Peaty, footballer Raheem Sterling and Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey.

Voting will be open during the show this Sunday eveing, with the winner being decided by the public.


Dominic Thiem caught a cold in Abu Dhabi

© Julian Finney/Getty Images



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