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First time in the Middle East for me. Flew into Dubai with Andy from Glasgow on Christmas Day. No, not on a sleigh... with Emirates! Very nice it was too. Watched John Bishop Live on the flight. Gift from Santa. Along with my George Clooney calendar and an electric chocolate fountain. Oh yes, Santa knows me so well :)
So we landed Boxing Day morning and got picked up by a driver from the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. He was Scottish. Chances of that???? Took about 80 minutes to get to Abu Dhabi - or Abu Dubai as my mother calls it :) Quick turn around and over to the Sheik Zayed Sports City for practice via the Mubadala HQ for an autograph signing session for about 250 employees.
Andy got introduced to UAE royalty. A small Sheikh. Age 6. And very well dressed. Your Royal Tinyness.
Andy with a small Sheikh at the Mubadulah HQ. Too cute. The Sheikh, I mean.
This is an exo event - 6 stars, 3 days, 1 champ - that's what it's billed as! Rafa pulled out yesterday and was replaced rapido by Nico Almagro. So the line up is : Djoko, Andy, Tipsy, The Berd, Almagro and The Little Beast. Each of the players is paid a fee for taking part and is also expected to perform a number of duties for the tourney and the sponsors. So after practice on the stadium court with Dani and a Thai junior hitting partner, Andy had to do a press conference, then back to the hotel for a photo shoot at the marina with Djoko. Quite a busy day when you're jet lagged. Miami-London-Glasgow-Dubai in 3 days!
The tennis complex at Sports City is impressive. 6 hard courts and a stadium court seating about 5000. 2 padel courts with glass backs. To play tennis here costs between £5-£6 an hour midweek and £10 an hour at weekends. Coaching is about £40 an hour for an individual lesson.
Wednesday was an early breakfast. Have to say the buffet at the Yas Viceroy is to die for. I seriousy could spend the day there. It looks out onto the marina and over the Abu Dhabi grand prix racetrack which also runs underneath the hotel. I kid you not. This place is awesome.
It's about 20 minute drive to the venue. Practice for Andy at 1030. Court is very fast. I watched the practice but was more interested in the event team changing the backdrops to remove Rafa and insert Almagro. Though nobody seemed to notice that the pics of The Berd and Ferrerrrrrr had been transposed so they were playing lefthanded......:) unless they'd made some serious game changes in the off season!
Daveed Ferrerrrrr - became a leftie overnight!
Photoshoot at 11.45 and a kids clinic at noon for an hour. It was so hot and bright that Andy had to borrow a pair of shades from the Sun photographer!!!!!
Andy and the kids loving the clinic
Lunch at clubhouse - incredible selection of hot n cold foods and the best dessert platter ever. Amazingly the dessert table is changed 3 times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. This place was made for me!
The MWTC has the most amazing buffet in the player lounge. Needless to say, I only have eyes for the cakes...
Back to the Viceroy for a nap then over to the club for pre match hit. First match of the tourney was Andy v Tipsy. We had a bit of trouble getting into the stadium coz our tickets wouldnt scan... and the terribly efficient young man on the gate just wouldn't buy our Team Murray story. Quite funny. Eventually we got escorted in - just before the first point, only for the match to be suspended for rain at 15-0!
Wins for Tipsy and The Little Beast means they take on Almagro and Djoko respectively tomrrow. I'm going to do the clinic for 20 UAE coaches with Dani and Little Matt. That should be interesting. Wonder if they've played Bobsleigh?
More tomorrow... you cant wait, can you?