ABU DHABI, December 31, 2015
Six of the world’s best players arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday ready to ace their New Year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Heading into its eighth year, the tournament features a competitive line-up and give sports fans across the region a first glimpse of the players as they begin their 2016 campaigns. World number 7 David Ferrer faced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to open the action on centre court at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City.
It was only the first match at the MWTC as well as of the new season, but Ferrer was already in “beast mode” against the Frenchman. The 33-year-old Spaniard, who arrived in Abu Dhabi with his family, was highly motivated right from the beginning of the encounter. Ferrer was aggressive from the baseline but was also looking for his way to the net pretty often. Of course, Tsonga was obviously still in search of his rhythm, but Ferrer impressed by a decent performance at this very early stage of the season. Ferrer served the match out after only 54 minutes, winning 6-1, 6-1.
“I came here to play here the best players in the world. It was the first match of the season. Unfortunately I fell in two set but David played well with a lot of consistency. He returned pretty well and was very aggressive, didn’t give me a lot of time to play my game,” Tsonga summarized his opening match of the season and added: “I wish I could have stayed on the court longer today but I expect me to be better than this during the next weeks.”
Ferrer was understandably happy with his performance. “Maybe I played with a bit more of consistency today. He did too many mistakes but it’s not easy at the first match of the new season. But it didn’t seem to be his best day today,” the 33-year-old from Javea told afterwards and added about his off-season: “I was in Valencia during the pre-season but practiced a bit more in my home town this year.”
He was accompanied by the same team as last year but his racket has become a new one. He switched the brand from Prince to Babolat. “I wanted to change. I like this racket and 2015 was the last year with Prince and tomorrow I will start 2016 with a new one. I hope to improve my game with this racket.”
For his first match in 2016, Ferrer will face fellow-Spaniard Rafael Nadal for a spot in Abu Dhabi’s final. “Rafael is one of the best players in the world. It is going to be a tough match for sure. He is a good partner, we played Davis Cup a lot times together.”
In the second first round match, Milos Raonic emerged victorious from the “battle of the big servers”, beating Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4. Raonic, who pulled out of the last legs of the IPTL due to back injury a couple of weeks ago but seems to be fit again. The 25-year-old Canadian will face Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.
Raonic talked to the media after his match. Listen to his press conference: