Australian Ajla Tomljanovic has said she is looking forward to playing Maria Sharapova in Abu Dhabi after replacing Amanda Anisimova for the women's match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC).
Anisimova was initially due to face five-time grand slam champion Sharapova on Day One of the pre-season exhibition tournament, which is taking place December 19-21 at Zayed Sports City's International Tennis Centre. However, injury has forced the 18-year-old American's withdrawal, with Tomljanovic stepping in as the replacement.
“I’ve heard amazing things about Abu Dhabi and the championship, and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of this crowd against Maria," Tomljanovic said. "It will give the perfect challenge ahead of a big season."
Tomljanovic is a four-time finalist on the WTA Tour and was part of the Australia team that reached the 2019 Fed Cup final. She will be the first Australian, male or female, to compete at MWTC, now entering its 12th edition.
Anisimova, who reached her first grand slam semi-final at the French Open in June, was disappointed to miss the chance to compete at MWTC.
“It’s really disappointing to have to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship," she said. "I was looking forward so much to coming to Abu Dhabi and I hope to make the trip in the future."
The women's match between Tomljanovic and Sharapova will conclude the first day's play after the two quarter-finals in the six-player men's event.
ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will play world No 10 Gael Monfils in the first match at 4pm, with the winner progressing to the semi-final to face four-time and defending MWTC champion Novak Djokovic, the world No 2.
World No 4 Daniil Medvedev will then take on South Korea's Chung Hyeon in the later quarter-final at 6pm. World No 1 Rafael Nadal, also a four-time winner at MWTC, awaits the winner.
Both semi-final matches, as well as the fifth-place playoff will be played on Day Two, with the third-place playoff and final scheduled for Day Three.