World number 4 and defending Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, has been confirmed as returning to Abu Dhabi for the season-opening Mubadala World Tennis Championship from 1 to 3 January 2015. The Swiss joins the previously announced duo of the world number 1 and 2, and 2014 Grand Slam winners, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Making his Abu Dhabi debut back in 2010, Wawrinka returned to the UAE capital for the 2012 instalment of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship as a top ten player. The Swiss went on to be the ultimate beneficiary of the tournament's exceptionally high standard of tennis, as he went on to win the first major of 2014 just a few weeks later, the Australian Open.
Speaking from the US Open, where the 29 year old has progressed to the fourth round, Wawrinka is a wiser man. After announcing his arrival on the Grand Slam stage at Flushing Meadows in 2013, when he pushed Novak Djokovic to five sets in the semi-finals, the Swiss has proven he knows what it takes to perform on the sport's biggest stages and will be aiming to replicate his ongoing 2014 journey in 2015, starting on 1 January 2015 at Zayed Sports City.
"I'm absolutely delighted to be returning to Abu Dhabi to start the year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. 2014 was a pivotal year in my career, and with Abu Dhabi the first real test of the season, it will always hold a special place for me. Although I didn't play my best tennis there last year, I was tested and quickly realised I had to improve, which produced positive results, especially in Australia. This year I'll be aiming to get off to an even stronger start and of course I would love to win my first trophy of the year in Abu Dhabi."
Returning as the first tournament of 2015, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship offers the fans, the commentators and the players some early insight into the new season, as competitors in the tournament have been victorious at January's Australian Open for the past three years running. The unrivalled line up of stars, featuring the two highest ranked players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, along with fellow 2014 Grand Slam champion Wawrinka, means a hugely competitive start to the year for all the players.
Should Wawrinka hope to win his first Mubadala World Tennis Championship title he will most likely have to see off at least one of the world's top pair and is under no illusion as to the challenge posed:
"It's the standard of tennis that keeps us coming back to Abu Dhabi; yes it's hard to get the wins but that's the only way to improve and we all enjoy those contests. For me the Abu Dhabi experience is one where the sun is shining, the stands are packed with fans and you're challenging yourself against the world's best players; it's a unique formula that creates an incredibly positive vibe. It brings out the best in everyone. I want to continue enjoying that feeling and can't wait to get out there."
World-class action combined with contagious cheers creates an electric atmosphere that will start from the very first ball on the opening day of the Championship, Thursday 1 January 2015. The unique combination of a ‘winner takes all' prize of $250,000, the world's best players and a Championship format that is the equivalent of a Grand Slam quarter-final, guarantee explosive performances and attacking tennis to thrill crowds on centre court.
For more information visit mubadalawtc.com or the event's page on Facebook.