Tennis ace Kevin Anderson only has two things he wants to conquer in Abu Dhabi next month – the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and the planet’s fastest rollercoaster.
The star returns to the capital to defend his title from last year’s tournament, but will need to see off the challenges of Rafael Nadal and Novac Djokovic to do so.
The trio are on a star-studded line-up for the 11th edition of the eagerly anticipated sporting spectacle from December 27-29, which is among the city’s favourite events.
And the reigning champion told Time Out Abu Dhabi about his plans for his next visit here.
Anderson said: “I’m really excited to be coming back to Abu Dhabi. It’s my third time back and it’s a great place to start my season.
“It’s always going to be a strong field in Abu Dhabi and having Rafa and Novac there this year makes it even tougher. I definitely feel I have got a good chance and I’m excited to get started.
“I remember a few years ago doing a helicopter tour of downtown Abu Dhabi and seeing the landscape from the air.
“It’s so unique and it’s something I remember fondly. Hopefully this year I will get to explore the city some more.
“I hope I get time to go to Ferrari World and try the really fast rollercoaster there.”
Since the tournament was founded in 2009, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship has grown in stature and has firmly established itself as a favourite of tennis’ elite players.
This year sees Venus Williams make her debut at Zayed Sports City, with Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Hyeon Chung and Karen Khachanov also on one of the strongest line-ups in years.
The contest has become known as the first tournament leading into the Australian Open, tennis’ first Grand Slam of the year.
Wimbledon 2018 finalist Anderson will take on last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Chung in the first match on December 27 to kick off the tournament in style.
And the South African world number six explained just why it keeps growing in popularity.
Anderson added: “It’s a really great tournament for players and we are really well looked after.
“You are coming after a bit of a break, you’ve been playing some practice courts but not at the same level.
“Playing Abu Dhabi is a great chance to get back on the tennis court again. Players take it really seriously and it’s good competitive tennis.
“There are always really tough matches in the tournament but it gives me a lot of confidence to start the season.”
But it’s not just the tennis action that is set to thrill the crowds, with fun for all the family at the nearby Tennis Village.
Each day will take on a new theme, with day one centred around families as kids aged two-12 get free entry on the opening day with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Day two is for the foodies among us, with one of the tennis stars signed to swap their racket for a spatula in a live cooking demonstration.
While day three is dedicated to the ladies of the capital, with an elegant ladies day celebrating fashion, sports and healthy living.
Tickets are priced from Dhs100 and can be purchased from www.ticketmaster.ae or by calling 800 86 823 and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE.
From Dhs100. December 27-29. International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi (800 86 823).