What’s On previews the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi (2015), featuring Novak Djokovic, whom we feature. Plus, win tickets.

WIN TICKETS (closing Dec 28, 5pm)

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The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has only been going since 2009, but it’s an important date in the diary for the world’s top players, as it’s the start of a journey that will see them battle it out to win the big competitions, including the US and French Opens, and Wimbledon. It also acts as the ideal warm up for The Australian Open, which starts on January 19.
Scotsman Andy Murray beat Spaniard Rafael Nadal to win the first Mubadala Championship in 2009, and Nadal himself has gone on to win it twice. The past three years, though, it’s been all about the current world No 1, Novak Djokovic. The good news is that he, Nadal and Murray are all taking part this January. While there have been some lingering doubts about Nadal appearing as he works his way back from injury, the organisers are confident the Spanish star will play. The big question is: can Djokovic win it for a fourth time in a row?

World No 4 Stan Wawrinka, No 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No 20 Gael Monfils make up the six-man line-up and, while it’s classed as an exhibition tournament, the Dhs1 million prize up for grabs means it’s not a competition the sport’s biggest names will be taking lightly.

The world according to Novak Djokovic
The current No 1 is the player to beat in Abu Dhabi

On Rafael Nadal
“It’s definitely the biggest rivalry I have in my tennis career. It’s always a great challenge when I play Rafa on any surface.”

On success
“One of my mottos is to be who I am and not pretend to be somebody else. I think that kind of thinking got me to where I am.”

On Andy Murray
“Andy and I get along, but it’s not that simple to have a friendly relationship. We are rivals.”

On his pet toy poodle
“Pierre is more than a dog.Once when I lost to Nadal in Paris, I was feeling down. But when I came back to the house, Pierre greeted me by jumping up at me. He was so pleased to see me. He put a smile back on my face.”

On his training regime
“I try to get out of the gym if I can. I ride a bike, swim, run, play football and basketball. Every day we focus on different parts of the body. My advantage is my flexibility. My muscles are elastic and I spend a lot of time on stretching because that prevents injuries.”

On keeping a journal
“We are all human. One day I get up and think: I don’t feel like playing, I don’t feel like practising, I don’t feel like living that day. From time to time everything goes bad in your thoughts, so it is good to have that record of how you got through things before.”

On the UAE
“I love to see how it grows year after year. Hotels, food, climate, hospitality, fans, the organisation of the event… everything is perfect for a player. I really appreciate coming here.”

On the crowd
“You always need the crowd. You want to have them on your side. It’s a big difference when you have support from the stands.”

On being a hero in Serbia
“We have a harder way to succeed in life as Serbs because of the past that we had and because of the history we had. We have to dig deeper.”

January 1 to 3
International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, Dhs100 to Dhs350. Taxi: Zayed Sports City. mubadalawtc.com. ticketmaster.ae