ABU DHABI // Andy Murray will have to defeat James Blake for the first time if he is to begin the New Year in winning fashion today at the US$250,000 (Dh918,000) Capitala Tennis Championship at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Murray, 21, had a superb 2008, winning two ATP Masters titles and also reaching the final of the US Open as he reached No 4 in the world rankings. The Briton is aiming for even more this year, but will have to notch up a first triumph over Blake, 29, if he is to progress to the semi-finals tomorrow.
The American, who is the world No 10, won their only previous clash back in 2006 when he triumphed 6-3, 6-3 in Hamburg. Today's winner will face Roger Federer in the first of tomorrow's semi-finals. Murray against Blake is the second of today's matches, with first on court at 3pm being the match between the big serving American Andy Roddick and the Russian Nikolay Davydenko. While on paper as the higher seeded player Davydenko should be favourite, previous form dictates otherwise as Roddick, 26, has dominated the previous clashes.
The 2003 US Open winner, who is the world No 8, has won five of the six matches between the pair. But Davydenko, 27, who is the world No 5, can take heart from the fact that he won their last clash in Miami last year in straight sets. The winner of their encounter will take on the Spanish world No 1 Rafael Nadal in the second of tomorrow's semi-finals. The final of the inaugural event is on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, off court, Murray has enlisted a Hollywood talent agency to boost his profile from March onwards. He has signed with CAA Sports and 19 Entertainment, the company run by the American Idol television programme creator Simon Fuller. firstname.lastname@example.org