The sixth Mubadala World Tennis Championship returns to the capital. World No 4 Andy Murray, who won the title in 2009, will be among those hoping to lift the trophy. The Wimbledon champion spoke to What’s On ahead of his first game on December 26.

Which player do you dread going up against? I don’t really dread playing anyone. I often look forward to playing against guys like Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and Novak [Djokovic] because we always have good matches. I was always pretty intimidated by Marat Safin though, so I hope he hasn’t got any plans to come out of retirement.

What made you pursue a career in tennis? When we were growing up my brother Jamie and I were competitive in pretty much everything we played. We played a lot of games at home with balloons and simple things around the house when we were very young. It was pretty obvious we both wanted be involved in sport from an early age. If we weren’t at school we were either on a football pitch or on a tennis court. I had trials for Glasgow Rangers FC, but in the end I didn’t have time to play both football and tennis, and as much as I fancied myself as a football player, I was better at tennis.

What advice do you have for aspiring tennis players? Work hard. You can have all the ability in the world, but it’s extremely important that you work on every aspect of your skills. However, the most important thing is to have fun and just enjoy playing tennis.

When did you realise you were famous? There wasn’t a particular moment, but the first time I started doing well at Wimbledon and reached the third round, the newspapers started reporting on me a lot more. I was still quite young so I didn’t think much of it until people started noticing me in the street. People started asking for my autograph and I had journalists following me back to my room. It was quite strange.

What’s the most outrageous thing you ever bought for yourself? I once bought a Ferrari, which for me was pretty outrageous. Although I sold it not long after I bought it. [His girlfriend] Kim wasn’t a massive fan. She just referred to it as the ‘red car’. I liked driving it, but I felt a bit self-conscious getting in and out of it as everyone would stare.

What is the one thing you can’t live without? My girlfriend and my dogs Maggie May and Rusty – in that order! They are very important to me. I travel a lot and I am away from home for long periods, so I really look forward to relaxing at home and not doing an awful lot.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I will always be trying to watch the football – live or highlights – if I’m not on court. If there isn’t any football on, I love playing fantasy football. Myself and a few guys are in a league, which gets very competitive. There are always deals to be done and changes to be made, so I like to keep a watchful eye on my team to make sure I finish on top at the end of the season. I’m also big on basketball and I watch the Miami Heat whenever I train in Miami. I love boxing too and watch as many fights as I can.

What sort of music are you into? I have quite a varied music taste – some would say it’s pretty dodgy. I’m a huge fan of Ed Sheeran and I have really enjoyed listening to Bastille’s new album. But I’ll listen to just about anything.

How do you feel about coming back to play in Abu Dhabi? It’s great being out here. The Mubadala World Tennis Championship is a very well-run event, and it’s always a lot of fun to play. Abu Dhabi is certainly hotter than the UK this time of the year, which makes it easy to come back every year.

December 26 to 28
Tennis Stadium, Zayed Sports City, Madinat Al Riyadiyya, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 4034200. Taxi: Zayed Sports City.