Stan Wawrinka glad to be back in Abu Dhabi where it all began

Swissman may not have a good record at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, but he credits tournament for winning the Australian Open in 2014. Ahmed Rizvi reports.
Stan Wawrinka credited his performance in Abu Dhabi to the Australian Open title win in 2014. William West / AFP
Stan Wawrinka credited his performance in Abu Dhabi to the Australian Open title win in 2014. William West / AFP

ABU DHABI // Yet to win a match in two appearances at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Stan Wawrinka will be hoping to change that anomaly when the reigning Australian Open champion on Thursday meets the lowest-ranked player to compete at the tournament.

Wawrinka first played the Mubadala as the world No 19, in 2010, but the Swiss was bounced out by Robin Soderling at the opening hurdle. He came back to Abu Dhabi in 2013 as the world No 8, high in confidence following a run to the last four at the US Open.

The Swiss failed to live up to expectations, though, lost 7-5, 6-1 to David Ferrer in the quarter-finals and then was drubbed 6-3, 6-4 by Andy Murray in the play-off for fifth place.

Despite those defeats last year, Wawrinka believes the tournament was a great preparation for the Australian Open, where he defeated Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal on his way to the title.

“This has been a very special year for me and it started for me in Abu Dhabi,” Wawrinka said as he rounded off his preparations for the three-day tournament at the Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium that begins on Thursday.

“So it was an easy decision for me to come back in 2015.

“We have the chance to play the best players and get ready for the new season and, for me, it seemed to work well last year.

“Of course, I hope I can go on from Abu Dhabi and have success in Melbourne again and I will be putting 100 per cent into my matches to help me prepare as best I can.”

Wawrinka will be facing Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in tonight’s second match, taking the court after the duel between 2009 champion Murray and Feliciano Lopez, who is making his first appearance at the tournament.

Should Wawrinka get past Almagro, the Swiss will meet the three-time defending champion and world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the semis and he is certainly excited about that match-up.

“If I get through to play Djokovic, that would be a great opportunity for me against the world No 1,” Wawrinka said.

“We only had two matches last year, so the more chances I have to play him, the better.”

Djokovic and Nadal will not be in action on the opening day, as they have been given a bye into the last four, but the Spaniard will be particularly interested in the result of the opening match of the tournament.

Nadal was knocked out in straight sets by Lopez at the Shanghai Masters in October and revenge could be on his mind, but Murray could deny him that pleasure.

“It’s great to be back in Abu Dhabi and I’m looking forward to getting started at the tournament,” Murray said.

“I’ve played at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship a number of times now and I’ve always found it to be very good preparation, you always get a very good crowd.

“It’s a great way to start the year to try and play some matches against the best players in the world and it gets you very sharp for the beginning of the year.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 31, 2014 04:00 AM

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