Can Dominic Thiem win in the capital?

We speak to French Open finalist Dominic Thiem ahead of his return to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. 

You face Karen Khachanov in the opening round of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, what can fans expect from that match? 

“For me personally I hope to get some quick revenge after my loss against him in Paris earlier this year. He’s a huge player with a big serve and really good from the baseline. He’s now ranked eleventh in the world right now and I’m sure that he will break into the top ten soon. For the first round in Abu Dhabi I think it’s a nice match for fans to watch.”

You’re no stranger to competing in Abu Dhabi, what did you enjoy about the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and what are you looking forward to this year? 

“The tournament is great, it’s organised like a very good ATP event and away from the tennis there’s a lot of nice things to do in Abu Dhabi. I’ve spent some time at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi which is a standout from me, I really enjoy it there. I’m really looking forward to coming back for a great tournament and also because I like the city.”

The tournament in Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity to prepare for the season ahead. How is your preparation for 2019 going so far? 

“My pre-season is already underway and this is the most important time of the year. It’s the only time we get to break all your weaknesses and the tournament in Abu Dhabi is amazing because it’s a very serious tournament and everybody there wants to win. It’s great to get the chance to play and hopefully go into the new season with a few games under your belt.”

The line-up for this year is exceptionally strong with the world number one and number two taking part – who do you think poses the biggest challenge this year? 

“My focus is on the first match against Karen, that will see the world number eight face world number eleven so it will be very competitive. The line-up this year in Abu Dhabi is unbelievable and I’m looking forward to facing Karen first of all and hope to beat him after he beat me the last time we faced each other at the Paris Masters.”

You got to your first Grand Slam final this year at the French Open where you face Rafa Nadal. Do you hope to get the opportunity to play him again in Abu Dhabi? 

“To play on clay is always a challenge and it’s extraordinary that [Nadal] has won the Grand Slam on clay 11 times. If I play Nadal in Abu Dhabi it means I’m in the final and that would be nice for me. I hope that it happens.”

WORDS Colin Armstrong

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