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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Lowdown and predictions: Mubadala World Tennis Championship Day 1

It is the opening day of the 10th staging of the tournament at Zayed Sports City and here is what to watch for.

Andrey Rublev makes his Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut on Thursday against Robero Bautista Agut. Marco Bertorello /  AFP
Andrey Rublev makes his Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut on Thursday against Robero Bautista Agut. Marco Bertorello / AFP

Ahead of Thursday's opening matches at the 10th staging of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, here is a look at the two match-ups on the quarter-finals day.

Pablo Carreno Busta v Kevin Anderson 5pm

This is a rematch of their US Open semi-final in September, which Anderson won in four sets to reach his first grand slam final where he would go on to lose to Rafael Nadal.

That was a tense encounter between the pair in New York, dominated by big serving and the serve is likely to dictate proceedings here.

Anderson has won all three of their ATP matches and this could well go his way too. It would not be a surprise if the first set went to a tie-break and the South African went on to prevail.

The winner of the match goes on to face Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Friday.

Prediction: Anderson in straight sets

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Roberto Bautista Agut v Andrey Rublev From 7pm

Speaking ahead of their match, Rublev said he felt Bautista Agut had beaten him easily in their lone previous meeting in 2015 when the Spaniard won 6-2, 6-3.

Rublev was 17 at the time, but he has really progressed since then and he has a real chance of triumphing in this clash of tournament debutants in Abu Dhabi.

Now 20, he ends 2017 at 39 in the world and having reached the quarter-finals of the US Open, beating Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin along the way, he is full of confidence.

His ability to find winners from all around the back of the court should make him a lot of fun to watch, and it will be not that much of a surprise if it is he who gets to face Novak Djokovic in the last four on Friday.

Prediction: Rublev in three sets