Sharapova faces Fed Cup finalist Tomljanovic at Mubadala Tennis C’ship - GulfToday

Sharapova faces Fed Cup finalist Tomljanovic at Mubadala Tennis C’ship

Sharapova faces Fed Cup finalist Tomljanovic at Mubadala Tennis C’ship

The clash between Maria Sharapova and Ajla Tomljanovic will complete an intriguing end to the opening day of the three-day festival of tennis and entertainment, which runs from Dec.19–21.

The opening day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2019 will record another on-court first when five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova takes on Australian Fed Cup finalist Ajla Tomljanovic in the women’s match on Thursday, Dec.19 at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Centre, at Zayed Sports City.

Not only will the match-up mark Mubadala World Championship debuts for both players, it will also be a first-ever on-court encounter between the pair, who have played more than 1,300 WTA singles matches combined.

The meeting will complete an intriguing end to the opening day of the three-day festival of tennis and entertainment, which runs from Dec.19–21. It will represent a chance for Tomljanovic to continue her great form which saw her play a leading role in helping Australia reach their first Fed Cup final since 1993.

Tomljanovic will be the first Australian, male or female, to feature at the Mubadala World Championship where she replaces Amanda Anisimova who has picked up an injury.

With more than 300 WTA singles victories to her name, Tomljanovic is seeking to use her Mubadala World Tennis Championship debut as a springboard to a successful 2020 season.

“I’ve heard amazing things about Abu Dhabi and the championship, and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of this crowd against Maria. It will give the perfect challenge ahead of a big season,” said Tomljanovic.

Anisimova is understandably disappointed to miss out on making her championship debut in Abu Dhabi and a chance to play in the UAE capital.

“It’s really disappointing to have to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. I was looking forward so much to coming to Abu Dhabi and I hope to make the trip in the future,” said the 18-year-old.

Tomljanovic though, will be seeking to capitalise on the hard courts at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Centre, and will be sure to put on a show for fans in Abu Dhabi.

Doors to the Tennis Village open at 12pm on Day 1 with World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on world No. 10 Gael Monfils in the first match at 4pm, followed by World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev vs Hyeon Chung, before the women take center stage.

Beyond the three-day tournament, the Championship is committed to creating a lasting legacy for tennis in the UAE through various community programmes that raise awareness of the benefits of tennis and the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Hyeon Chung, returning to Abu Dhabi after making his debut at the 2018 event, joins a stellar field featuring five of the world’s top 10 male players at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship  .

Chung is the eighth and final player in an all-star field.

Chung, returning to Abu Dhabi after making his debut at the 2018 event, joins a stellar field including world’s top 10 male players: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No.5 Daniil Medvedev, No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 10 Gael Monfils. The first match of this year’s championship will see Tsitsipas, winner of this 2019 ATP Finals, take on French crowd favourite Monfils on Thursday, Dec.19 at 4pm. That match will be followed by Chung vs Medvedev in the second quarter-final.

Day 1, which is also Kids’ Day and offers free entry to children 12 and under, will then see the women take to the court. Top seeds Nadal and Djokovic enter the championship on Day 2 with the defending champion Djokovic facing either Tsitsipas or Monfils in the first semi-final following the fifth place play-off which will take place at 3pm.

Nadal will make his 10th Mubadala World Tennis Championship appearance following that match, where he will face the winner of the Medvedev vs Chung match, in what could be a rematch of this year’s epic US Open final. Day 3, on Dec.21, will see a third place play-off at 5pm, followed by the final.

Since making his debut in the inaugural event in 2009, Nadal has become one of the best tennis players of all-time, winning 13 of his 19 Grand Slam titles in the process.  He has claimed the Mubadala World Tennis Championship title four times, with his most recent victory coming in 2016 with win over David Goffin in the final. For Chung, the championship represents an opportunity to get his 2020 season off to a winning start.

“I very much enjoyed the experience in my first Mubadala World Tennis Championship last year,” said Chung.

“It’s great fun and I’m coming back to show the people of Abu Dhabi what I’m capable of, and that I’m ready to compete with the best players in the world again.”

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