Abu Dhabi organisers mulling over Mubadala ATP upgrade?
Tentative discussions have begun over a possible upgrade of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) to an official event, although the ATP say there are no current plans as of yet.
The six-player exhibition event is in its sixth year, and while sources revealed that the topic has been raised, organisers have remained tight-lipped about plans, if any, to include the tournament on the ATP calendar.
“Our responsibility to the owners of the tournament and to Abu Dhabi is to continuously identify and look at new opportunities, and we’ve done that from the beginning,” Managing director of IMG Greg Sproule told Sport360°.
“We have nothing to announce. Any kind of a more formal association – we’ve always looked at that. Our obligation is to continue to do that.
“What the tournament owners have said to us is to keep our eyes and ears open for opportunities that may make sense for Abu Dhabi.”
In its current format, the MWTC is a three-day exhibition event that is not part of the ATP nor affiliated with the sport’s world governing body, the ITF.
Only six players are invited to take part, with the top two seeds receiving byes in the first round and automatically moving through to the semi-finals. It has a winner-takes-all $250,000 (Dh917,500) prize pot and those invited are usually from within the Top 10.
Should the MWTC become an official event, it would then become part of the ATP World Tour. The field would be larger, all players would be entitled to a share of the prize money and would be able to earn points towards their world ranking.
If Abu Dhabi were to in fact pursue a spot on the ATP calendar close to the same time as the annual MWTC, they could opt for the first week of the season, which currently holds tournaments in Doha, Chennai and Brisbane.
Another thought would be to try and grab a week prior to the ongoing Asian swing, where Abu Dhabi could be a convenient stop on the way to Malaysia or Thailand.
Is there room for a tournament alongside St. Petersburg or Metz, which took place earlier this month? “There are currently no plans for an ATP World Tour tournament in Abu Dhabi,” an ATP spokesperson told Sport360°.
Meanwhile, organisers insists this year’s MWTC line-up will be the best ever.
The full roster of six players will be announced on October 8 and with the world’s top-three and former Abu Dhabi champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray already confirmed, it’s shaping up to be a remarkable field.
“The mandate from the owners, FLASH, is to make it better every year, and we believe we’re doing that,” said Sproule.
“To have all of the previous winners this year represented, I think so far it’s pretty cool. They’ve won all the Grand Slams this year as well.”
This year’s MWTC takes place from December 26-28 and tickets are on sale at www.ticketmaster. ae and 800 TM UAE (86 823) with prices starting from Dh50.