Stefanos Tsitsipas believes a strong performance at next week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship will provide the perfect platform for a successful 2020.
Fresh from winning the 2019 ATP World Tour Finals in London, the Greek, 21, is due to make his maiden Abu Dhabi appearance at the 12th edition of the MWTC, which runs December 19-21 at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.
In a men's field featuring five of the world's top 10 players, world No 6 Tsitsipas begins his campaign against France's Gael Monfils on Thursday.
Tsitsipas is good friends with the world No 10, but says friendship will be put to the side come the opening serve in Abu Dhabi as he looks to fine tune his game ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2020, the Australian Open in January.
“I know Gael pretty well, he is one of my best friends on the Tour and it will be exciting facing him," Tsitsipas said. "For me it is a great way to start the season by competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. It is a tournament I have never played in before. I am really looking forward to getting a few good matches under my belt before I travel to Australia.”
Should he defeat Monfils, Tsitsipas will face world No 2 Novak Djokovic in Friday's semi-final after the Serb and defending champion received a first-round bye.
On the other side of the draw, Russia's world No 5 Daniil Medvedev will take on 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals winner Hyeon Chung in the second match on Day 1, with the winner due to face top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the second semi-final on Friday.
“Looking at the strong line-up for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, it’s going to be an exciting tournament. I feel every match is important and it will help me mentally knowing that I started the season in the best possible fashion,” said Tsitsipas, who is youngest player to win the ATP World Tour Finals in 18 years.
Despite also being the youngest player in the world’s top 10, the 21-year-old is confident of holding his own at Zayed Sports City and over the course of a grueling 2020 season.
“I feel I am close. Over the last couple of years, I’ve proved I can beat top players,” said Tsitsipas, who defeated Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Medvedev on his way to London glory last month.
“I can be persistent and consistent at the same time. I plan to work on controlling my nerves on court, being patient, not cracking under pressure and being brave in match situations.”