The 14th edition of the tournament in Abu Dhabi will mainly focus on the ATP players as they look to prepare for the 2023 season. Despite there being no Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic this year, there are plenty of big names in action at the Zayed Sports Centre with the world’s top two players Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud headlining the six player field.
Alcaraz had a sensational 2022 season becoming the youngest ever world number one in ATP history having claimed his maiden US Open title. However the Spaniard was unable to compete at the ATP Finals after an abdominal injury ended his season early and Alcaraz will look to build his fitness as well as lay down an early marker ahead of the new season.
Meanwhile Ruud also had an incredible season with the Norwegian reaching two Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros and the US Open as well as reaching the finals at the ATP Finals. Ruud will look to continue his consistent form in 2023 with the Norwegian potentially starting the season as the new world number one if things go according to plan.
Alcaraz and Ruud will not play the opening round as they start the competition from the semi-finals and will face the winners of the opening round matches. The world number one will take on either Frances Tiafoe or Andrey Rublevin his semi-final while Ruud will take on the winner of Stefanos Tsitsipas’s clash with Britain’s Cameron Norrie. That being said, here is a small recap of each player’s 2022 season and how they shape up heading into next season.
Tsitsipas had another great season last year as he reached seven ATP finals which included a Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo and a grass court title in Mallorca. However there are question marks over Tsitsipas’ ability to win back matches and perform at Grand Slams with Tsitsipas’ best result at a Grand Slam being his semi-final at the Australian Open. This was further proved with the Greek’s tame defeat to Rublev at the ATP Finals and Tsitsipas will look to improve that part of his game in 2023.
Rublev won four titles last year and proved that when he is on form, the Russian is pretty much untouchable. However Rublev’s temperament and lack of composure has cost him on a number of occasions, which was shown in his semi-final defeat to Ruud at the ATP Finals. Now Rublev will look to control that emotional rage and construct it into bigger things at the big events in 2023 with his talent suggesting that he has the quality to win a Grand Slam title.
After an underwhelming start and finish to the 2022 season, it was an impressive middle part of the year for Norrie who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon. There’s no doubting the Brit’s consistency but in order for Norrie to achieve his goal of being the best in the sport, he will have to increase his overall level of play and be braver in big moments.
The American has had potential to deliver big results in the past but has never fulfilled his talent until last year. Tiafoe achieved ground-breaking wins and reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open as he aims for a top ten spot next year. The American will look to continue to improve his return as his serve is already one of the most effective serves on the tour as he looks to achieve bigger success next year.
However it’s not just the men’s tournament that will be taking centre stage in Abu Dhabi as their will be a women’s exhibition event on the Friday. This will see Emma Raducanu intensify her preparations for next season as she takes on Wimbledon and US Open finalist Ons Jabeur.
Last season was a big disappointment for Raducanu but also a big learning curve to show that Grand Slam success doesn’t necessarily translate into WTA tour success straight away. Also five retirements throughout the 2022 season shows that Raducanu will need to get physically fitter with former fitness trainer of Andy Murray, Jez Green helping with that side of things this year.
Raducanu will look to get back to the form that saw her storm to US Open triumph in 2021 and facing someone of Jabeur’s quality may help her with what she needs to do to achieve that. Jabeur had an incredible year last year which included reaching two Grand Slam finals as well as winning the WTA 1000 title in Madrid.
The Tunisian was very close to claiming Grand Slam glory last year and knows that more improvement and that dream will not be very far away as she looks the player to challenge Iga Swiatek’s reign at the top of the WTA tour.
Here is the order of play for the tournament with play starting on Friday 16th of December and concluding on Sunday 18th of December:
Friday 16th December:
Stefanos Tsitsipas v Cameron Norrie
Andrey Rublev v Frances Tiafoe
Ons Jabeur v Emma Raducanu
Saturday 17th December:
Fifth Place Play-Off
Stefanos Tsitsipas or Cameron Norrie v Casper Ruud
Carlos Alcaraz v Frances Tiafoe or Andrey Rublev
Sunday 18th December:
Third Place Play-Off
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