Abu Dhabi: World No 1 Novak Djokovic makes his long-awaited debut at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship from December 29-31 at Zayed Sports City against fellow event debutant Gael Monfils, the official draw confirmed yesterday.
Ahead of that clash, the opening match on Day One of this year's competition pitches Spanish World No 5 David Ferrer with close rival and French crowd favourite World No 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Both have shared a victory apiece from two previous ATP Tour meetings.
The official draw also reveals the potential of mouthwatering semi-final matches on Day Two of a championship which features the strongest ever line-up to play in Abu Dhabi and anywhere around the world outside the ATP World Tour Season in 2011.
One semi-final pits all-time men's Grand Slam singles titles leader, Roger Federer against the winner of the Djokovic-Monfils encounter, while World No 2 and 10-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal lies in wait for the victor of the Ferrer-Tsonga clash, another tantalising prospect.
Speaking after the draw, Shatha Al Romaithi of organiser's Flash Entertainment, said: "To have the World No 1 debut in Abu Dhabi on the opening day makes this without a doubt the most exciting first day line-up in the tournament's history. Novak's form has been devastating this season but the response from those rising up the world ranking such as Ferrer, Tsonga and Monfils means every player is a genuine title contender with unmissable action and titanic clashes expected from the very first shot on Day One."
Ferrer has had a hugely impressive 2011 securing his 11th ATP title and reaching the semi-final in the Australian Open, having defeated Nadal in the quarter-finals. Victory over Nadal in Australia was the fourth in Ferrer's career.
Meanwhile, Tsonga recently finished runner-up to Roger Federer at his home nation's BNP Paribas Masters. The Frenchman fought his way back up the world-rankings, collecting his sixth ATP title in Metz during a 2011 season which included a notable win over Nadal at Queens Club London.
For Monfils, coming off his most successful season yet on the ATP tour having risen at one point to a career high of seventh in the world, taking on the World No 1 on the opening day of the global season is exactly the challenge a determined Monfils thrives on.
Looking ahead to the semi-finals, if the matches go on world rankings, Abu Dhabi will enjoy a repeat of this year's memorable French and US Open Semi-finals already regarded as sporting classics, with the unstoppable Djokovic taking on the greatest player of all time Roger Federer.
This will be an encounter which cannot be missed by any sports fan in the UAE especially following a return to form for Federer who recently became the first player to contest the final of all nine Masters 1000 tournaments at the BNP Paribas Masters.
Victory in the final over Tsonga gave Federer his 18th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.
With tickets continuing to sell-quickly anyone interested in securing a ticket for the three-day championship is advised to book now at www.thinkflash.ae or call 800 FLASH (35274). For more information visit — www.mubadalawtc.com.
Thursday 29 December
- Match 1 - 3pm Ferrer vs Tsonga
- Match 2 — 5pm Djokovic vs Monfils
Friday 30st December
- Semi-final 1 - 3pm Federer vs Winner of Djokovic vs Monfils
- Semi Final 2 — 5.00pm Nadal vs Winner of Ferrer vs Tsonga
Saturday 31st December
- 3rd and 4th place match — 3pm
Final — 5pm
- Categories (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3)
- Category 1 (Adult): Dh250, Dh350, Dh500
- Category 1 (Child 2-12) Dh200 Dh300 Dh450
- Category 2 (Adult) Dh100 Dh200 Dh300
- Category 2 (Child 2-12) Dh50 Dh150 Dh250
- Premier Hospitality Dh1,300 Dh1,600 Dh2,000