x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Six of the best for Abu Dhabi

Six of the world's top 10 men's players will bring in the New Year in Abu Dhabi when they contest the new Capitala World Tennis Championship.

Top seed Roger Federer practises for the upcoming Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China on Friday. Federer is favored to win among the line-up of the world's top eight tennis players following the withdrawal of the world's No.1 Rafael Nadal due to knee injury.
Top seed Roger Federer practises for the upcoming Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China on Friday. Federer is favored to win among the line-up of the world's top eight tennis players following the withdrawal of the world's No.1 Rafael Nadal due to knee injury.

ABU DHABI // Six of the world's top 10 men's players will bring in the New Year in Abu Dhabi when they contest the new Capitala World Tennis Championship. The event, which is being held at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City from Jan 1-3, will have a "winner takes all" prize of $250,000 (Dh918,000).

The world number one Rafael Nadal will be joined by his predecessor and Dubai resident Roger Federer, with Great Britain's Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydenko (Russia), and the leading American pair of Andy Roddick and James Blake completing the line-up. Federer, who has vowed to try to reclaim his position as the world's leading player next year, said: "I am really looking forward to playing in Abu Dhabi. The player field is very strong and the location is beautiful.

"It is always exciting to play in new facilities and I am sure Abu Dhabi will be up there with the best of them. We all hope that this event will return year after year and set the standard for tennis lovers in the region." Greg Sproule, of the sports management company IMG, which is overseeing the event confirmed that it was not an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) sanctioned event, but would be played under its rules.

"We are hoping to establish this as an annual event," he said. "Many of the players will be stopping off en route to the Australian Open, via here and Doha, and we are currently laying a plexicushion surface at Zayed Sports City which is the same that will be used at Melbourne Park." The three-day event will also feature a spectator village, with interactive family-friendly areas, a VIP area, junior coaching and will also be used as an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of tennis and an active healthy lifestyle.

John Lickrish from tournament organisers Flash said: "The Abu Dhabi World Tennis Championship is without doubt one of our most exciting initiatives to date. To have so many genuinely world class tennis players here to compete in the capital is hugely exciting for everyone and we hope that after the tournament, the performances they gave, as well as the amazing facilities at Zayed Sports City are sure to encourage local people to get more involved in this fantastic sport."

Local players will shortly be competing in the Community Cup, a UAE-wide tournament where the winners will have the chance to meet the players. Tickets for the event, which can host 5,000 spectators, go on sale from Sunday, with a starting price of Dh55. The event's sponsor, Capitala, is an Abu Dhabi-based strategic real estate planner and developer, formed this year, and whose maiden project is a Dh22bn development on Abu Dhabi island.

The National will be the official newspaper of the event, while its parent company, Abu Dhabi Media Company, has the broadcasting rights to it and will be televising it to 466million homes worldwide.

Meanwhile, Davydenko came from a set down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-7 (6/8) 6-4 7-6 (7/0) as the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup got underway in Shanghai. The Paris Masters winner Tsonga was forced to come back from 0-40 down in the opening game of the contest to hold serve, but that was as close as either player came to a break in a tight first set. The pair proved just as hard to separate in the tie-break, but Davydenko eventually put a routine volley into the net to gift his opponent the set. The second set could not have started in more contrasting fashion as both players exchanged breaks in the opening two games. And the Russian fired a winner right into the corner to break again at 5-4 and take the set. The decider looked like proving a far more one-sided affair as Davydenko opened up a 5-2 lead, but Tsonga clawed his way back to level matters at 5-5 before the Russian raced through the easiest of tie-breaks to claim victory. Action in the Red Group, which includes Federer, who has won the title in four of the last five years, Murray, Roddick and Gilles Simon, gets under way today. Tickets for the Capitala World Tennis Championships can be purchased at www.boxofficeme.com mwalker@thenational.ae