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Tennis in the capital: Centre court drama

World No. 1 Andy Murray and defending champion Rafael Nadal are two of the biggest names in action at the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship being held in Zayed Sports City from December 29 to 31. But the others in the fray don’t just make up the numbers.

  • Andy MurrayImage Credit: GN Archives
  • David GoffinImage Credit: GN Archives
  • Jo-Wilfred TsongaImage Credit: GN Archives
  • Milos RaonicImage Credit: GN Archives
  • Rafael NadalImage Credit: GN Archives
  • Tomáš BerdychImage Credit: GN Archives

Seed: 1

Andy Murray 

Age: 29

Plays: Right-handed

Prize money: $55,715,019

ATP ranking: 1

Grand slams: 3

Often touted as one of the most intelligent tacticians on the court, Murray is the only tennis player to have won two Olympic gold medals following his triumph at Rio earlier this summer. Known for his strong first serve and solid baseline play, the Scot is on the top of his game currently and is the toast of the British Isles for reaching the world No. 1 spot for the first time with a win at last month’s BNP Paribas Masters.


Seed: 2

Milos Raonic 

Age: 25

Plays: Right-handed

Prize money: $13,464,667

ATP ranking: 3

Grand slams: 0

A Canadian of Serb origin, Raonic first gained international acclaim when he reached the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open as a qualifier. Six years on, the Monaco resident is more than just a vastly improved player with a ranking below only Murray and Novak Djokovic. Considered among the strongest servers of the Open Era, he reached the Wimbledon final earlier this year but remains a hard court specialist having won all his singles titles on Abu Dhabi’s surface of choice.


Seed: 3

Rafael Nadal 

Age: 30

Plays: Left-handed

Prize money: $78,688,782

ATP ranking: 9

Grand slams: 14

One of only two in history to have won a singles career grand slam, Nadal is a true legend of the game and is often called the ‘King of Clay’ for his dominance on the surface, having won nine out of his 14 grand slam titles at the Roland Garros. Yet he is no pushover on hard courts winning eight Masters series titles and the Olympic gold in 2008. A former world No 1, Nadal returns to the capital with three Abu Dhabi titles under his belt.


Seed: 4

Tomáš Berdych 
Czech Republic

Age: 31

Plays: Right-handed

Prize money: $26,151,606

ATP ranking: 10

Grand slams: 0

As someone who has reached the semi-finals of all four grand slams, Berdych’s career highlight remains reaching the final of the 2010 Wimbledon championships. A self-confessed fan of the hard court, Berdych relies on his forehand and big serve that make him very capable of scoring a big upset on his day. A former world No. 4, his personal best, Berdych is one of the only three players to have defeated each of the current ATP circuit’s ‘big four’ in major events.


Seed: 5



Age: 26

Plays: Right-handed

Prize money: $4,860,519

ATP ranking: 11

Grand slams: 0

Goffin reached his career best ranking of 11 only this June but his breakthrough moment came over four years ago at the French Open when he made the fourth round as a lucky loser. A quarter-final at the same tournament earlier this year may be his best grand slam result, but his victories over three top tenners in 2016 including Berdych makes Goffin quite a formidable opponent for Murray in round two potentially this weekend.


Seed: 6

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga France

Age: 31

Plays: Right-handed

Prize money: $18,761,854

ATP ranking: 12

Grand slams: 0

Son of a Congolese father and a French mother, Tsonga rose to fame at the 2008 Australian Open where, as an unseeded player, he shocked the tennis world by reaching the final.

Among his four big scalps in that tournament was Nadal - the then world No. 2 who he sent packing in the semis in straight sets. Four years later he reached his career best ranking of five but could never reach the same heights. Nicknamed Ali for his uncanny resemblance to the boxing legend, he however hasn’t stopped producing occasional bursts of greatness.


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