Two-time Grand Slam finalist Ons Jabeur and former US Open champion Emma Raducanu will contest the one-off women's match at the 2022 Mubadala World Tennis Championship, organisers confirmed on Wednesday.
Jabeur, the world No 2, contested last year's MWTC match against Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, after the Tunisian stepped in last minute to replace Raducanu, who was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19. Jabeur won the match 4-6, 6-3, (10-8).
Now the pair will square off on the first evening of the 14th edition of the tournament, which takes place December 16-18 at Zayed Sport City's International Tennis Centre in Abu Dhabi.
“Playing in Abu Dhabi is always exciting,” Jabeur, 28, said. “I had a fantastic experience there in 2021 and I don't want to lose the opportunity to defend my championship title this year. Aside from the match itself, I am most excited to see my fans there – I find them extremely special as they have supported me throughout every competition I have participated in this year.”
Jabeur was already a huge fan favourite and a big star when she made her MWTC debut last year but has since elevated her record-breaking career to new heights.
The Tunisian this year became the first Arab woman to win a Masters 1000 title with her victory in Madrid and the first to reach a Grand Slam final when she contested the Wimbledon final against Elena Rybakina. Jabeur repeated that feat by reaching the US Open final two months later but fell just short to world No 1 Iga Swiatek.
On the opposite side of the net will be a player who has also created history in her short career so far. Raducanu become the first qualifier in the Open era to win a major title when she lifted the US Open trophy in 2021.
“I am thrilled to finally be making my debut in Abu Dhabi,” Raducanu, 19, said. “I've heard great things about the fans and how supportive they are, and I can’t wait to play in front of them all.”
In addition to the one-off women's match, MWTC will host its traditional six-player men's tournament. The top two seeds will receive automatic byes into the semi-finals, where they await the winners of Day 1's quarter-finals.
Day 2 will see both semi-finals played as well as the fifth-place playoff, before the third and final day hosts the third-place playoff and final.
Russia's world No 9 Andrey Rublev is the defending champion having defeated three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray in the 2021 final.
“We promised we would bring the top players to compete in Abu Dhabi once again, and in Ons and Emma we have secured two of the sport’s biggest names," said John Lickrish, the CEO of Flash Entertainment, the tournament's owner.
“Ons is a crowd favourite and has enjoyed a tremendously successful year since winning the Mubadala World Tennis Championship last December. Likewise, I know Emma is also extremely popular and tremendously excited about making her debut here in the UAE. I’m sure there will be huge interest from the tennis community both in the UAE and the wider region.”
Tickets start from Dh95 for adults and Dh45 for children on Day 1 of the tournament, Dh195 and Dh95 on Day 2, and Dh195 and Dh295 for Day 3.
Organisers have scheduled the Day 3 matches to take place earlier than usual to ensure fans are able to watch the 2022 World Cup final, which is scheduled to take place at 7pm UAE time.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.mubadalawtc.com