From left: Dan Evans, Taylor Fritz, Belinda Bencic, Denis Shapovalov, Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev pose for a picture at The Galleria Al Maryah Island on Wednesday.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The star-studded line-up for this week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship took time out from their respective preparations to go head-to-head in a fun, competitive shootout challenge at SkyPark at The Galleria Al Maryah Island on Wednesday.
Two-time MWTC champion Andy Murray, World No.5 Andrey Rublev, World No.14 Denis Shapovalov, US No.1 Taylor Fritz, British star Dan Evans, and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Belinda Bencic faced off in a competition that tested their tennis knowledge and shot accuracy.
Each player was given 60 seconds to answer a series of questions on tennis, before tasked with firing balls through various holes ranging from 4-10 inches in circumference.
With each hole offering different points to players, and the smallest holes only slightly wider than a regular tennis ball, Evans emerged victorious from the tense and hilarious encounter by amassing 25 points.
Meanwhile, Ons Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab player ever, joined the star-studded line-up in last-minute to replace US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.
Jabeur will face Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in the one-off women's match on Thursday evening, following the men's quarter-final matches where Fritz faces Shapovalov, and Evans locks horns with Murray.
Jabeur, Africa's No.1, has enjoyed a strong season, reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and winning her maiden WTA title by defeating Daria Kasatkina at the Birmingham Classic, making history as the first Arab to win a WTA Tour event.
“I am proud and honoured to be the first Arab woman to play the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. 2021 has been a terrific year for me and I know that the Championship is the best start to an exciting 2022 season,” said Jabeur.
Murray, who has split with long-term coach Jamie Delgado ahead of the 2022 season, said that his future as a professional tennis player will be decided next season, adding that he would leave ‘no stone unturned’ in his quest to return to the top of the sport.
Speaking about her plans to open a tennis academy in Dubai, she added: "My new project is about opening a tennis academy here in Dubai for local Emirati tennis player to become a champion and one day have the chance to play in Wimbledon and elsewhere..."
World ranked 139 Tauson saw off Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 to guarantee a top 100 debut on Monday. Tauson was playing in just her third main draw and with Sunday's win confirmed her status as one of the sport's in-form players.
The 22-year-old Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka finished her 2020 campaign with triumphs in Ostrava and Linz and will be one of the favourites for the delayed Australian Open next month.
Ons jabeur, a beacon of encouragement and hope for every aspiring female in the Arab world playing tennis, will be one of the star attractions when the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships gets underway next month.
The 38-year-old Turkish-born boxer turned professional in 2017 and rose to fame after winning the WBFed International title in 2021, local media reported.
India's Supreme Court gave its latest ruling after the victim's family appealed a 2018 verdict that saw the 58-year-old former Test opener walk away with a Rs1,000 ($13) fine. The top court enhanced the sentence to Sidhu to one year.
France's Stephanie Frappart, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda and Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita are among the 36 match referees. Brazil's Neuza Back, Mexico's Karen Diaz Medina and US Kathryn Nesbitt have been included in the 69 assistant referees.