Sela to start season in Qatar

The 32-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 67 in the world, decided that he wanted to begin his 2018 campaign with the new experience of playing a tournament in the Gulf.

December 26, 2017 01:18
2 minute read.
Sela to start season in Qatar

Dudi Sela of Israel serves to Sam Querrey of the United States on day three of the US Open tennis tournament. (photo credit: JERRY LAI-USA TODAY SPORTS VIA REUTERS)

Dudi Sela will travel to Qatar on Wednesday ahead of his first-ever participation in an ATP Tour event in the Arabian Peninsula.

The 32-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 67 in the world, usually starts his season in India or Australia, but decided that he wanted to begin his 2018 campaign with the new experience of playing a tournament in the Gulf.

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One of the main reasons behind Sela’s decision to take part in the $1,286,675 event is the fact that it is run by his good friend, Moroccan Karim Alami, a former player who retired in 2002.

World No. 5 Dominic Thiem is the top seed, with Novak Djokovic to also participate in the tournament held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.

Shahar Pe’er became the first Israeli to play in a tennis event in Qatar in 2008. Pe’er also played in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a tournament in which Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich took part for the first time in 2012.

In other tennis news, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams announced she will play her first match since the birth of her daughter when she faces off against French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi next week.

The match will be the 36-year-old Williams’ first in almost a year as she prepares to try to defend her Australian Open crown in January, a title she captured earlier this year while pregnant.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September,” Williams said in a statement on the championship’s website.

Williams and Ostapenko will be the first women to participate in the 10th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season.

“I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event,” Williams added.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the season- opening exhibition event in Abu Dhabi due to ongoing fitness problems, the world No. 1 has said.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion, who won the French and US Opens earlier this year, withdrew from the ATP Finals in November after struggling with a knee injury during his round-robin defeat by Belgian David Goffin.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, who has previously played at the tournament on eight occasions, will be replaced by compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.

“It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready,” Nadal told the Mubadala World Tennis Championships website.

“For this reason, I have sadly announced to the organizers and now to you fans that I won’t play this time in Abu Dhabi.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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