After six odds weeks of grueling boredom in the off-season, tennis fans can rejoice, as 2015 will officially kick off with the traditional Mubadala World Tennis Championships from Abu Dhabi. The tournament features some of the ATP World Tour’s top stars, all of whom want to begin their respective seasons with some early momentum.
The opening round of the tournament will feature an interesting, albeit predictable, contest between Swiss star Stan Wawrinka and Spain’s Nicolas Almagro. Of their 10 previous professional encounters, Wawrinka leads the series 7-3. However, since this is an exhibition, neither man’s success on Thursday will impact the current head-to-head record.
After taking part in undoubtedly his best season to date – one that included his maiden Grand Slam title, his first Masters 1000 title, and his first Davis Cup crown – Stan Wawrinka will be hard pressed to improve upon that in 2015. He has to defend his Chennai Open and Australian Open titles in the coming weeks, which will be a remarkably difficult task for the world No. 4.
However, one can expect that Wawrinka, who is playing the Mubadala tournament for the third time, will be looking for a strong start to his year.
Once ranked as high as No. 9 in 2011, Nicolas Almagro has had a turbulent season in 2014. A plague of injuries would see him retire in the first round of the French Open and sit out the remainder of the season. He has since dropped to No. 71 in the rankings and finished the season with a 14-9 record.
This marks the 11th time that these two competitors will cross paths in competition, with Wawrinka leading the professional head-to-head 7-3. While Almagro has been gifted the potentially easier side of the draw, his lack of activity makes him an unlikely pick for success as this early stage of the year.
Prediction: Stan Wawrinka in Three Sets