The 2014 season unofficially kicks off next week with top players headlining exhibition events in the United Arab Emirates and Australia. Five official tournaments will also begin before New Year’s, starting on Dec. 29. Here’s a quick look at the first events of the season and who is playing where:
• Exhibition: Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Dec. 26-28, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Notables names: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
• Exhibition: Hopman Cup, Dec. 28-Jan. 4, Perth, Australia
Notables names: John Isner, Milos Raonic, Tsonga, Bernard Tomic, Sloane Stephens, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Genie Bouchard, Sam Stosur.
• Brisbane International, Dec. 29-Jan. 5, Brisbane, Australia
Notables names: Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Sam Querrey, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys.
• Qatar Open, Dec. 30-Jan. 4, Doha, Qatar
Notables names: Nadal, Murray, Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet.
• Chennai Open, Dec. 30-Jan. 5, Chennai, India
Notables names: Wawrinka, Fabio Fognini, Mikhail Youzhny, Janko Tipsarevic.
• Shenzhen Open, Dec. 29-Jan. 4, Shenzhen, China
Notables names: Li Na, Peng Shuai, Zheng Jie, Vera Zvonareva.
• ASB Classic, Dec. 30-Jan. 4, Auckland, New Zealand
Notables names: Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, Jamie Hampton, Laura Robson.
Most players are still practicing at their training bases, so expect the air to be full of tennis players next week. Here’s a look at what the tennis preseason looks like:
Rafael Nadal: The World No. 1 is still training in chilly Mallorca, where puffy jackets and monochrome tights are a must. (Photo from Facebook)
Roger Federer: Federer got us all excited when he tweeted about working with Stefan Edberg for a week in Dubai. Edberg has returned to Sweden, but Federer is still working hard.
Novak Djokovic: When not climbing mountains in search of parasite-free water, he’s been training with his younger brothers in tow.
Juan Martin del Potro: Argentina is doing its best to emulate Melbourne conditions. (Photo from Facebook)
Sloane Stephens: Hitting the gym with her hitting partner.
Ana Ivanovic: The Serb has been hitting at Melbourne Park in Australia. Nice aim, Ana:
Agnieszka Radwanska: She helped her team in Prostejov win the Czech Republic league title, along with Jiri Vesely, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer. (Photo from Facebook)
Bob Bryan: Look good, feel good, play good.
Laura Robson and Jamie Hampton: Still training together in Florida. (Photo from Facebook)
Nenad Zimonjic: Murray’s doubles teammate in Doha has found himself a very familiar-looking hitting partner.
Tomas Berdych: Big Berd looks tired. (Photo from Facebook)
Vera Zvonareva: The former No. 2 is preparing for her comeback at the Shenzhen Open. Good to see her back after more than a year away.
Dominika Cibulkova: That’s one heck of a packing job. (Photo from Facebook)
Fernando Verdasco: Gym rat.
Bernard Tomic: He’s training, though the Australian press still can’t stop cracking the jokes: