Abu Dhabi: Milos Raonic, whose hard-hitting 125mph serve helped win him his first ATP title in 2011, is calling on fellow Canadians to come out and cheer him on to success in Abu Dhabi.
Raonic, who was born in Montenegro but grew up in Ontario, will make his Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut in Abu Dhabi between December 31 and January 2.
His aggressive game and entertaining playing style has received plaudits from greats including Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Novak Djokovic.
In his first match at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City, Raonic will take on the South African Kevin Anderson in what will be an intriguing battle between the two debutants who are confirmed for the 2016 season season-opener.
Completing the star-studded line-up is 14-time Grand Slam winner and former World no.1 Rafael Nadal, reigning French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, pacey Spaniard David Ferrer and crowd favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Speaking ahead of his imminent Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut, Raonic said:
“I’ve only heard positive things about this tournament and the city of Abu Dhabi, and looking at the line-up it is for sure going to be a challenging few days. It’s really great to be able to test yourself against world-class opponents before the new season and to play in new places, so I can’t wait to get ready for business. Hopefully I’ll get to see a lot of Canadian flags in the stands, and although it’s still early, I’ll definitely be looking for a strong performance.”
In addition to the coveted Mubadala World Tennis Championship trophy – whose previous claimants include Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal - there is a $250,000 (Dh918,150) cash prize up for grabs in the capital.
For Raonic though, who won the SAP Open in San Jose, California in February, 2011, and is current world number 14, it is all about getting in perfect shape for his most important season yet.
“I’m excited for 2016, I must admit. I’m still young and still improving, and it’s only been two years since I broke into the world’s top-10,” he said.
“My target is to add to my five ATP titles and to climb the rankings even further, but it’s also an Olympic year and I’m keen to do well in Rio. “Hopefully Abu Dhabi can be the catalyst that I need to prepare for a big year.”
Raonic must first overcome Anderson in his opening match and then win a semi-final showdown against Wawrinka, while Tsonga needs to defeat Ferrer and Nadal.
Tickets are available for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores, or by calling 800 TMUAE (86 823) or +971 4 3662289 for International calls.
GP race ticket holders can benefit from a 20% discount on Category 2 tickets for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2016 through the Y1 Access programme.