December 18, (THEWILL) – Rafael Nadal’s defence of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship title was ended by fellow world number one Andy Murray’s outstanding performance.
The longtime rivals wowed the crowd with some fantastic exchanges in their 25th meeting, which was the first between the two in almost five years.
Murray clung on at times against Nadal’s normally frank stroke-play and seized two chances, which were enough to earn a 6-3 7-5 Defending triumph in straight sets.
Despite the fact that Nadal was returning from a long injury layoff, it was a performance to boost Murray’s confidence ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 17 next year.
The Scot appears to be in excellent form and will face Andrey Rublev in the Abu Dhabi final. Speaking after scaling past the Nadal hurdle, Murray said, “It is great being able to play at this level again after a very long time.”
“Me and Rafa have played so many matches over the years but both of us have gone through so many injury troubles and issues. It is great to have the opportunity to be on court with him again.”
“It’s another chance to play against a top player. He hits a huge ball from the back of the court so will certainly test my movement out.”
Nadal got off to a strong start, winning his opening two games to love in his first match since withdrawing from the rest of the competitive 2021 season in August.
The veterans traded a series of excellent shots in a number of lengthy rallies after they returned to court, with Murray favouring a more defensive game and Nadal unable to find consistency with his aggressive ground-strokes.
On serve, the second set continued to 5-5 and appeared destined for a tie-break as each player fought from deficits early in games on serve to force a tie-break. More blunders from Nadal, however, let Murray to take a 15-40 lead.
The first of two break points was saved by Nadal, but Murray’s brilliant half-volley and his opponent’s error allowed the 34-year-old to close to within a game of the final. Murray dutifully won on service, ensuring that Nadal’s comeback to competitive tennis would be a letdown.