|Posted on December 27, 2010 at 3:38 PM|
Two rising stars of tennis Marcos Baghdatis and Tomas Berdych are counting down the days to the start of the global tennis season and their eagerly anticipated debuts in Abu Dhabi for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Baghdatis, ranked No 20 in the world, will be making his first appearance in the UAE capital when he meets Tomas Berdych, the world No 6, next Thursday.
"Over the years, I've had some great battles with Tomas and I'm expecting another very close match, but hopefully the fans will see me as the 'local player' and show me their support."
Baghdatis tumbled down the rankings in 2009, dropping 140 places from a career-high No 8, but last year -after a humbling by Berdych in his season-opening tournament in Brisbane - he started to recapture his old form.
Likewise, Berdych will remember 2010 fondly. Having turned 25 in September, the powerful right-hander has used the past 12 months to sear his name into the minds of tennis followers. A semi-final appearance in the French Open at Roland Garros was followed up less than a month later by reaching his first grand-slam final on the grass of Wimbledon.
"In 2010 my game took another positive step forward and I was pleased with the progress made during a satisfying season," Berdych said. "For sure, more people will be looking at me, but I'm ready for that - and the start of the new season - with my debut in Abu Dhabi."
Berdych sees the three-day knock-out tournament as the perfect way to increase the intensity of his training ahead of the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 17.