Karolina Pliskova excited for 'incredibly strong' Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

Czech former world No 1 arrives in the capital after reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open

Karolina Pliskova is a former world No 1, two-time Grand Slam finalist and winner of 16 WTA Tour titles. EPA
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Karolina Pliskova said she expects the inaugural Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open to deliver plenty of "exciting matches" as the former world No 1 aims to build on an encouraging start to the season.

Pliskova, 30, will be part of a strong field at the WTA 500 event in the capital, including recent Australian Open finalist and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Russian world No 8 Daria Kasatkina, Swiss world No 9 Belinda Bencic, Russian world No 11 Veronika Kudermetova, and Latvian world No 12 Jelena Ostapenko.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, now ranked 82, will also compete at Zayed Sports City after receiving a wildcard. The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open takes place February 6-12.

"I'm excited to play because I might have been in the [qualifiers] ... the draw is going to be incredibly strong, there is going to be a lot of exciting matches," Pliskova told The National. "It will be a great tournament in a great city."

Pliskova, a two-time Grand Slam finalist, played in the one-off Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open in January 2021 – a tournament which was created to help fill a schedule severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. On that occasion and seeded third, the Czech was knocked out in the second round.

"This is going to be much different [compared to 2021]," Pliskova added. "Last time, no one could leave their rooms, so I'm excited to see a little bit more of Abu Dhabi, not just the courts and the room.

"I remember, I was so sad because I was stuck in the hotel room, not allowed to go outside, and the view was just amazing, looking at the city, so hopefully this time will be better than last time."

Now a new regular fixture on the WTA Tour calendar, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open is a 500-level tournament and as such, has attracted plenty of top players for the inaugural event.

Pliskova, who has won 16 WTA Tour titles, will be among the contenders, despite starting the season ranked No 31. A strong showing at the Australian Open, where she reached the quarter-finals, has moved the Czech up to 20th and trending in the right direction.

"The beginning of the year is tough but super important, because if you start by losing two or three matches it can be difficult to gain confidence for the year when everyone else is playing better and better," she said. "I'm happy to get some wins in Australia so I don't feel the pressure that I have to win matches.

"I played some good tennis there. I'm a bit disappointed with the quarter-final but I think my level is quite good, so I'll be happy if I can reach the late stages of tournaments and play the best players. Of course, there are some things to work on and improve but I think overall the situation is quite good."

Tickets for the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open are available at ticketmaster.ae. For more information about the tournament, visit: www.mubadalaabudhabiopen.com.

Updated: February 01, 2023, 8:14 AM