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 victory of Morocco over Spain triggered a wild celebration across the Arab world. The victory is being seen as a pan-Arab win. It was not only Doha, where the fans went in the state of euphoria but they flocked the streets from Cairo to Jeddah and Dubai to Damascus.
Fancied multiple Grand Slam champion and Dubai resident Kristina Mladenovic is eyeing a resurgence of her singles career heading into the upcoming tennis season.
Top seed Diana Shnaider overcame a gutsy Timea Babos, while Slovakia’s Rebecca Sramkova eased her way past Israel’s Lina Glushko for their rightful spots in the quarter-finals at the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge being held at the Habtoor Grand Resort.