Djokovic Retains Abu Dhabi Crown

Djokovic in press 10072012

By Abigail Hinto

(December 29, 2012) ABU DHABI – In the end, after the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal and the early loss of Andy Murray, Nicolas Almagro proved himself a worthy replacement player to Nadal as he, along with Novak Djokovic treated the fans in Abu Dhabi to the best match of the tournament.

It was an exciting and tight final that both players played with an even mix of light bantering and competitive seriousness.

Djokovic defends his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title 7-6 (4) 6-3 6-4. He now heads to Perth for the Hopman Cup in his continuing preparation for the Australian Open very satisfied with his game and with confidence, surprised after his semifinal match that he’s already at the level he feels he needs to be.

“Nico played an amazing game, ” Djokovic said. “He was hitting strong from the baseline and he wasn’t giving me much time. We had a lot of fun on court but we both wanted to win. Maybe if I had made a break in the first set it may have been different and we may have not played for so. He is always a dangerous player to have on court and he is a complete player. It was a close win match and I am very satisfied with how I played.”

“This is a top level event and we all want to see where we are in readiness for the season. This isn’t your standard tournament. We are all in playing to win and prepare for the season ahead but we can still have fun and smiles. I love Abu Dhabi and the fans. Hopefully I’ll be back to defend my title.”

For Almagro, the replacement player, he heads back to Spain to continue his interrupted vacation before finally starting his new season. But despite the interruption, he was very happy and satisfied to have come to Abu Dhabi, happy with the matches he’s played. His main goal now for next year is to qualify for ATP World Tour Finals after just barely missing out this year.

“I played a really good match so I am very happy but at the end of the day he is the winner, he is number one,” noted Almagro. “I try to improve every time I go on court, today was a great test. If I play the same as today throughout the season, I can start thinking big but I will take it step by step. I’m working on my serve. If you serve well you have a good chance and today my serve was better than I expected.”

“I feel so happy I got invited and hopefully the organizers are pleased also. I think it was a great final and a great tournament. Hopefully I’ll have a longer stay in Abu Dhabi if I’m invited back again. But I’m happy and really enjoyed the match with Novak.”



Janko Tipsarevic said after his win over Andy Murray on Thursday at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships that the future of men’s tennis is about being able to transition from defense to offense. According to him, now, even tall players like Berdych, Tsonga and del Potro are very good at defense, where before, big guys were mostly purely offensive players.


On Saturday, Tipsarevic wasn’t playing a tall player, in fact one of the shorter players on tour, but definitely someone who has mastered the art of transitioning from defense to offense. One of the best defenders in the men’s game today, David Ferrer, in his rise to the top and in his consistency to stay there for over five years now, has also been able to add considerable weapons to his game. He can defend, and dictate the rallies with his forehand.


In the third place match, Tipsarevic, for the entire first set was going toe to toe with Ferrer in punishing baseline rallies mixing offense with defense. It was a very tight first set which ended in a tiebreak which Ferrer won 7-4.


The third game in the second set showed what Tipsarevic was talking about regarding transition. Ferrer, scrambling hard, as he usually does, managed to turn a point around to set himself up to put away a winning volley to earn a breakpoint on Tipsarevic’s serve. He eventually converts it for a 2-1 lead when a finally frustrated Tipsarevic went for a backhand down the line winner that landed wide. It was then one-way traffic for Ferrer who seals his semifinal win over Tipsarevic 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Ferrer now heads to Doha for his first official match of the new season very happy with the game he’s played here in Abu Dhabi.

“It was a very close match and I am playing a great player,” Ferrer said. “When I play with Janko it’s always a close battle. It know it’s only early season but for me I try to focus as if it’s a major championship and I’m happy with my performance this weekend.”

Abigail Hinto was covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News.


Brisbane International Schedule for December 30, 2012


Brisbane International

Brisbane, Australia (+10 hours GMT)
30 December, 2012 – 6 January, 2013
Surface: Hard

PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:30 am
R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] J Gajdosova (AUS) – WTA
[6] P Kvitova (CZE) vs C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
[3] S Williams (USA) vs V Lepchenko (USA) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
[1] E Butorac (USA) / P Hanley (AUS) vs [WC] C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS) – ATP

SHOW COURT 1 start 11:00 am
U Radwanska (POL) vs T Paszek (AUT) – WTA
L Hradecka (CZE) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
D Hantuchova (SVK) vs L Dominguez Lino (ESP) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
G Dimitrov (BUL) / K Nishikori (JPN) vs [4] M Elgin (RUS) / D Istomin (UZB) – ATP

SHOW COURT 2 start 10:30 am
Qualifying – D Young (USA) vs M Zverev (GER) – ATP
Qualifying – J Millman (AUS) vs A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) – ATP
Qualifying – G Muller (LUX) or I Kunitsyn (RUS) vs J Duckworth (AUS) – ATP
Qualifying – R Harrison (USA) vs B Knittel (GER) – ATP

COURT 10 start 10:30 am
Qualifying – [WC] B Bobusic (AUS) vs K Pliskova (CZE) – WTA
Qualifying – L Tsurenko (UKR) vs O Puchkova (RUS) – WTA
Qualifying – D Kudla (USA) vs R Berankis (LTU) – ATP
Qualifying – H Moriya (JPN) vs S Johnson (USA) – ATP

COURT 14 start 10:30 am
Qualifying – M Puig (PUR) vs B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA
Qualifying – V King (USA) vs K Pervak (KAZ) – WTA
Qualifying – J Levine (USA) vs F Dancevic (CAN) – ATP
Qualifying – I Minar (CZE) vs D Wu (CHN) – ATP


Djokovic Dismisses Ferrer To Gain Abu Dhabi Final


By Abigail Hinto

(December 28, 2012) ABU DHABI – David Ferrer could do no wrong on Thursday in his straightforward win against Tomas Berdych in his first match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. Today, he’s feeling what Berdych must have felt in yesterday’s first set as he was on the receiving end of an onslaught of Novak Djokovic‘s groundstrokes to lose the first set 0-6 in their semifinal match. While Ferrer was dictating rallies yesterday, he now found himself scrambling behind his baseline as Djokovic kept hitting his returns, forehands and backhands deep. There was no place Ferrer could go, that even an attempt to get to the net sees himself lobbed with a winner. What could have been an easy hold for a more respectable 5-1 score saw Ferrer let a 40-0 lead slip away to get broken and eventually lose the first set 6-0 in 28 minutes.


Was Djokovic just fooling with us when he told us in his pre-tournament news conference that he wasn’t at his top level yet? Except for one service game he lost where he broke himself more than the other way around, there didn’t look to be any signs of rust from Djokovic from the off-season break. He gets the lead in the second set with a break in the 6th game to eventually win the match 6-0, 6-3 in 1 hour and 10 minutes.


As if Djokovic needed any more confidence boost, this was the perfect start he was hoping for the new season. As he said in his post-match interview, it was a great performance and a great confidence-boost for him, where confidence is easier to lose than to gain.


It was a flawless start to the new season for Djokovic. With the lessons he’s learned from last year trying to defend all those points from 2011, no doubt he’ll be in a much better place mentally now as he begins his campaign to collect more grand slams, his main goal for 2013.

“This is a great surface when preparing for Australia,”Djokovic said of the exhibition tournament. “We love it here. We come days before to practice and to enjoy the beautiful weather. ”

“Novak is playing very consistent, he is in a very good moment now, very confident,” Ferrer said.

Djokovic will face Nico Almagro in Saturday’s final. The Spaniard rallied to defeat Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.


Tennis Clinics

What’s unique about the Mubadala Tennis Championships is that all the tennis players get to participate in tennis clinics held throughout the three-day event. Not just the kids, but even adults get to participate in a coaching clinic as well.

It’s a welcome sight to see these top players do what they do best but in a much more relaxed atmosphere. You get to see Andy Murray smile with the kids, Novak Djokovic in his element hamming it up, David Ferrer, still giving his best to make sure the kids get the most out of their participation in the event. No doubt not every aspiring young tennis player could get a chance to hit with the best of the best, and the opportunity the Mubadala Tennis Championships give these participants is very much welcomed by the local tennis community.

Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.



Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Australian Open


( December 28, 2012) Eleven- time major champion and current world No. 4 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a continuing stomach virus.

The ailment caused Nadal to withdraw from this week’s World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi.

In a statement Nadal said:

“I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open. My knee is coming along okay, but a stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the rigours of a Grand Slam.

“Because of the virus, I have been unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared. You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.

“It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event. I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me. It hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. In the meantime, the focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the tour.”

“It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said. “But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready.

“We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible. Tennis fans across the world have been missing him. Our Australian Open staff will very much miss him and his team as he is not only a great player, but also a great guy with good people around him.”

“We wish Rafa all the best. I am confident we will see him back on the tour soon and back in Australia for 2014, no doubt as one of the contenders for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.”

“It is true we have been quite unlucky with this but there is nothing we can do,” said Nadal’s uncle and coach Toni Nadal.

The Spaniard has been off the tour  with a knee injury since losing in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol in June.

Nadal is scheduled to compete in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel tournament in Acapulco which begins on February 25, 2013.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis for Tennis Panorama News.


Tipsarevic Tops Murray, Ferrer Over Berdych in Abu Dhabi

 Janko Tipsarevic

(December 27, 2012) ABU DHABI – No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic and No. 5 David Ferrer began the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Thursday  with straight set victories on opening night at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

In the first match of the three-day tournament, Tipsarevic, making his debut at the exhibition event, stopped the reigning US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-4.

Tipsarevic secured a break in the fourth game of the opening set clinging to the baseline with long rallies.

Tipsarevic kept the momentum going in the second set taking a 3-1 lead and never looking back

“It’s not every day that you get to play a grand slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist, “the Serbian said. “ I know it’s an early season tournament but I can tell you that the six of us take this very seriously. I knew I could beat Andy as I have beaten him before. He’s a totally different animal now as he won a grand slam and Olympic gold so beating him here has given me confidence. Both of us have very similar games so it’s great to come out on top and I’m looking forward to playing Nicolas tomorrow. We’ve only played once so it should be interesting.”

The second match of the evening saw a rematch of the 4th rubber of the Davis Cup Final with the same result – No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain topped No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4.

Ferrer zoomed to a 5-0 opening set lead and never looked back.

“I played well today and I was surprised as it has been a long time without playing a competition,“ said Ferrer. “It’s a fast court and this was the first time I played at night but I played a good game. I will enjoy a victory for now but tomorrow I will have to play my best against Novak (Djokovic).”

Friday’s play will feature two semi-finals both featuring a Serbian versus Spaniard match-up – No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro will take on Tipsarevic.

“I managed to have the best year of my career in 2011 and I knew that it was going to be difficult in 2012 to maintain No. 1 of the world and play consistently, “ Djokovic said to media. “ I did and so this year was an even more successful year from a psychological aspect. Right now I can approach the new season with a lot of confidence because I won the last big tournament of the year in London and I hope that I can continue playing well. Ambitions are always high and I want to win every Grand Slam and major tournament I play and this year is no different.”

All photos by Abigail Hinto.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Tennis Channel Announces Live Hopman Cup Coverage Schedule

(December 27, 2012) LOS ANGELES – Tennis Channel will bring viewers tournament coverage from the 2013 Hyundai Hopman Cup beginning Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 3:30 p.m. ET. The network’s telecast will include U.S. competitions and the championship final of the annual international mixed-doubles tournament. All Hopman Cup matches, which feature teams consisting of one man and one woman, will take place at the Perth Arena in Australia, Dec. 29-Jan. 5.


The United States continues to lead all nations in Hopman Cup titles, claiming its sixth crown in the 2011 competition when Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner defeated Belgium’s Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans 2-1. This year’s mixed-doubles team features seven-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1, Venus Williams, and U.S. Davis Cup regular Isner, who is competing for his third year. Williams won her fourth Olympic gold medal when she paired with her sister Serena in the women’s doubles event in London. She also holds 13 Grand Slam doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. Isner, currently the top-ranked American male player, won ATP World Tour titles at Winston-Salem and Newport in 2012, and defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.


The Americans’ first challenge is France’s Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga and his country’s top female player, Mathilde Johansson. Tsonga, World No. 8, will make his Hopman Cup debut this weekend. The Frenchman had an impressive run at this year’s Wimbledon semifinals before falling to finalist Andy Murray. In 2012 he captured two ATP tournament titles and reached the finals at Beijing and Stockholm.


Coverage from Perth, Australia (all times EST):

Tuesday, Jan. 1:

3:30 p.m. – USA v. France


Thursday, Jan. 3:

3:30 p.m. – USA v. Spain


Sunday, Jan. 6:

8 a.m. – Championship

8 p.m. – Instant Encore, Championship


In their second competition, the Americans will face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues. Verdasco became only the seventh player in eight years to beat former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal on clay when he defeated his fellow countryman in the second round of the Madrid Open in May. He reached the finals at the Mexican Open in Acapulco this year before falling to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. Verdasco’s best performance at a Grand Slam came in the 2009 Australian Open semifinal, where he lost to Nadal after a grueling five-hour-and-fourteen-minute battle.


A number of top-ranked tennis stars are competing for this year’s Hopman Cup. This includes Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, Germany’s Tommy Haas, Italy’s Francesca Schiavone and Australia’s Bernard Tomic.


Prince Global Sports Appoints Miguel Rosa Business Development Manager for Latin America

BORDENTOWN, New Jersey, December 26, 2012 – Prince Global Sports, a global leader in racquet sports equipment through its Prince®, Ektelon® and Viking® businesses announced today that Miguel Rosa has joined the Prince®, brand as Business Development Manager Latin America. Rosa, a native of Brazil, joins Prince with a wealth of experience in the sports industry. Rosa spent the last seven years at IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he was instrumental in managing and growing the Bollettieri Tennis Program.

“I am excited to start a new challenge with Prince Global Sports and look forward to spending a lot of time in the market with our customers and partners across Latin America,” said Rosa. “I have always admired the long-term authenticity that Prince brings to the tennis business and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to deliver success and market leadership in Latin America.”

In 2013, Prince will be redoubling its focus on the Latin America market – a core tennis environment which has produced several top 10 players over recent years. Within his new role, Rosa will be tasked to identify the optimum business model for Prince across the Latin America region where he will work closely with Prince partners as well as with local tennis and squash federations within each individual market.

Rosa joins the current Prince Latin America team of Cynthia Mujica (Business Services), Maxi Salvi (Player Development Manager), Daniel Arahao and John Jaramillo (Promotional Representatives)andwill report to Mike Ballardie, Executive Vice President Brands. “ Latin America represents a significant growth opportunity for Prince across both its Tennis and Squash sub-brands,” remarked Ballardie. “In Miguel we have appointed a talented business leader whom through his knowledge and understanding of both the Latin American culture and racquet sports environment, will work with our business partners in the region to deliver sales and market share growth that will define our success.”


No. 1 Djokovic is Looking Back, Looking Forward To 2013

Novak Djokovic Abu Dhabi

By Abigail Hinto

(December 27, 2012) ABU DHABI – Coming off one of the most successful seasons a player has ever had on tour in 2011, the question for Novak Djokovic for 2012 was how much would a letdown 2012 be? It’s hard to expect a player to repeat the kind of peak performance Djokovic achieved in 2011, but suffice to say, 2012 was not a disappointing year for him. He defended his Australian Open title, won the ATP World Tour Finals,  three Masters 1000 events and ended the year as world No. 1 again.

In a way, it was impressive the way he was able to maintain his consistency, hold off plenty of challengers, and defend as many points as he did to reclaim the No. 1 position he lost in the middle of the year. Despite the bumps and losses along the way, Djokovic’s mentality through 2012 was most impressive. In fact, in the pre-tournament interview he gave today at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, he regards his 2012 year as the more successful year psychologically. “I had to face many circumstances on and off court that were not easy. I overcomed [sic] it and right now, I feel relieved in a way because I got another good year,” assessed Djokovic. And ending the year strongly, winning the World Tour Finals, cementing his world No. 1 status, brings an ever-confident Djokovic to the new year.

Djokovic has been working hard in his pre-season training the past three weeks already, where he started with fitness training before gradually increasing the hours spent on the tennis court. Though he feels he’s still not at a 100% the way he was at the end of the season, he knows he’s slowly getting there. Choosing to play two exhibition tournaments, here in Abu Dhabi and later the Hopman Cup is also all part of the plan to get to the Australian Open in peak form. Explaining his decision not to enter any ATP tournaments at the start of the year, Djokovic said he didn’t want to face right away the stress of winning every single match he plays. He wants to take his time working on his game, a luxury they don’t get during the rest of the year. “I feel very fit right now,” adds Djokovic, and just a couple more weeks and he feels he’ll reach his top fitness level and tennis game again. Just in time for his Australian Open title defense.
Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.
All photos by Abigail Hinto for Tennis Panorama

Emirates Named Official Airline of the ATP World Tour and Rankings Sponsor


(December 27, 2012) The ATP and Emirates announced a new global partnership in which Emirates will become the Official Airline of the ATP World Tour. In addition Emirates will become the new title sponsor of the ATP Rankings, as of  January 1,  2013.

As part of the five-year agreement, Emirates becomes an Official Platinum Partner of the ATP World Tour, as well as the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, through 2017.

“We’re delighted to welcome Emirates as the Official Airline of the ATP World Tour. It’s fantastic news for men’s professional tennis that a brand of Emirates’ global stature has pledged their support to the ATP World Tour for the next five years,” said Brad Drewett, ATP Executive Chairman and President. “This long-term commitment from Emirates is a testament to the world-class entertainment that is enjoyed by millions of fans across the world on the ATP World Tour.”

“This tie up with the ATP World Tour and Rankings is a perfect addition to our existing portfolio of global sports sponsorships. It will allow us to share in the sporting passions of our customers and bring them closer to the players,” said Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman of Emirates Airline and Group. “We see it as a natural extension of our current presence at high profile tennis events including sponsorship of several ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, the Emirates Airline US Open Series and being an official partner of the US Open. Through our global network and carefully selected sports sponsorships, Emirates successfully unites and engages fans and we look forward to working with the ATP to maximize on the consumer experiential and digital media opportunities this sponsorship presents to us.”

Emirates will also become the presenting sponsor of the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy ceremonies and the ATP Newcomer of the Year award, presented annually at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Emirates will be integrated into programming on ATPWorldTour.com and ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Rio, the Tour’s weekly magazine-style television show broadcast in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Emirates is the world’s biggest airline by international traffic.


New Season, New Goals

Andy Murray 12 26 Abu Dhabi

By Abigail Hinto

(December 26, 2012) ABU DHABI – Six of the top eleven players in the world,  are gathered in Abu Dhabi to start their season at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships (MWTC). Three of the players, namely Janko Tipsarevic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray showed up on Tuesday for their pre-tournament news conferences.  No. 11 Nicolas Almagro replaced Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the event with a stomach virus.

Despite all three belonging in the top 10, and despite the small gap in their rankings, these three players are in vastly different stages in their careers with varying expectations, pressures and goals. And the goals they’ve set for themselves for the new season give an interesting insight to how they see their careers, where they’re at now and what they feel they should be able to accomplish.
Tipsarevic, the relative newcomer in the top 10 has set his sights on qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London. And with his best showing at a grand slam only consisting of two quarterfinal appearances, both at the US Open this year and last, he aims to have deeper runs at the slams this year. His tight quarterfinal loss against David Ferrer at this year’s US Open has shown him that though he’s not quite there yet in the level he needs to challenge the top players, he’s getting close.
Tomas Berdych meanwhile has already made finals and a couple of semifinals at the majors. His goal now, is to hold that trophy. Saying that he was happy for Andy Murray finally winning his slam, noting that it’s good that someone had once again broken the stranglehold Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had on winning the majors, could acknowledging Murray’s breakthrough give Berdych the inspiration to try to win one for himself as well? Davis Cup this year, a grand slam next year?
As for Andy Murray, after finally winning that major he’s been working so hard for and been pressured on winning since he was first considered a contender in 2008, how does he re-set his goals? Murray is a short-term goal-setter which he says he’s always been with his career. So, it’s one major at a time for him, now focusing solely on the Australian Open trophy. Asked if reaching no.1 is a top priority, Murray answers that it’s not, as that ranking only comes with the results from every tournament he plays.
And as the Mubadala World Tennis Championships starts on Wednesday, we’ll get to see these three players finally begin their first step towards their goals.
Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.
All photos by Abigail Hinto for Tennis Panorama