Tsitsipas banks on Mubadala to kickstart season

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates winning the ATP Finals in London. Image Credit: AP file

Abu Dhabi: Fresh from winning the 2019 ATP World Tour Finals in London, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas believes a strong performance at next week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship will provide the perfect platform for another successful season in 2020.

Tsitsipas is due to make his first Abu Dhabi appearance at the 12th edition of the event, which runs from December 19-21 at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.

Tsitsipas, the world No. 6, will play France’s Gaël Monfils, the world No. 10, in the tournament opener.

“I know Gaël pretty well, he is one of my best friends on the Tour and it will be exciting facing him. For me it is a great way to start the season by competing at the tournament where I have never played in before. I am really looking forward to getting a few good matches under my belt before I travel to Australia,” said Tsitsipas, who defeated Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev on his way to London glory.

Should he defeat Monfils, Tsitsipas will face World No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the semi-final on Day 2.

On the other side of the draw, world No. 5 Medvedev will take on 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals winner Hyeon Chung in the second match on first day, the winner going on to face top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final on December 20.

“Looking at the strong line-up, it’s going to be an exciting tournament. I feel every match is important and it will help me mentally knowing that I started the season in the best possible fashion,” said Tsitsipas, who is youngest player to win the ATP World Tour Finals in 18 years.

Despite also being the youngest player in the world’s top 10, the 21-year-old is confident of holding his own at Zayed Sports City and over the course of a gruelling 2020 season: “I feel I am close. Over the last couple of years, I’ve proved I can beat top players,” said Tsitsipas. “I can be persistent and consistent at the same time. I plan to work on controlling my nerves on court, being patient, not cracking under pressure and being brave in match situations.”

Elsewhere on Day 1, the tournament’s only women’s match will see multiple Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova face off against Australia’s Fed Cup finalist Ajla Tomljanovićat (not before) 8pm.

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