x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Federer 16, UAE love

Tennis has some way to go before it can rival the popularity of other sports in the UAE, but the presence of two champions can only encourage young Emiratis to catch the bug.

Rod Laver and John Newcombe. Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Tennis has had its share of epic rivalries in the past several decades.The most competitive may be the one between the two players who have dominated the last seven years; Switzerland's Roger Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal.

As The National reports, the game's two giants will delight their fans today as they kick off their campaigns to win the Mubadala Abu Dhabi World Tennis Championship.

Federer and Nadal have won 25 Grand Slam titles between them. The Swiss legend is the world record holder with 16, while the young Spaniard, perhaps the greatest clay court player of all time, has enough time on his side to challenge that tally.

Tennis has some way to go before it can rival the popularity of other sports in the UAE, but the presence of two champions can only encourage young Emiratis to catch the bug. Already that seems to be happening."Before it was limited, but now the Emiratis are a lot more open to be involved in the event itself and involved in tennis," Ghyath Rustom, a Palestinian who has spent 25 years coaching in the region said. "People want to play now and much of that is because of this event. It has opened their eyes because when you mention Federer and Nadal, they light up." When they play it is not just great tennis on display but history in the making.