Rafa beaten in Abu Dhabi season opener

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal started his new season with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat to Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The first set had come alive after six service holds was followed by three breaks in a row, two of which were for Rafa. This put the four-time MWTC champion in the ascendancy and he sealed the set with a forehand smash. But Anderson hit back and in the sixth game a brilliant forehand to the back of the court, which Rafa could only hit long, gave him the lone break of the second set to level the scores. The third set was a cagey affair with both players spurning break points. But it was Anderson who made the breakthrough in the ninth game as Rafa tamely struck a shot past the baseline from the back of the court. Anderson then served the match out to secure the win and a place in the final.

Our champ was due to play the third-placed play-off tomorrow but he will instead use the time to rest after a lengthy battle.

I’m happy to be back on court here. I have great memories out here and of years playing great matches. Honestly this is a perfect way to start the season. Feels great to back on court and I need to take step by step after the surgery and that takes a bit of time. I have to take care of my body and my recovery but it’s a positive start. I thank the crowd here for all their support and to the fans all around the world.

It was a good match. My goal had been done in terms of coming back. I’m satisfied with the way I’m playing. I can’t thank the tournament and organisation enough for understanding my injury. but I hope to have an exciting year. I hope to be healthy

Rafa Nadal

Sources: The National, Gulf News


  1. I liked the way Rafa looked and am very encouraged . The new service motion is a definite improvement and is exciting . Rafa is going to definetly have a successful 2019 .
    Andersen also impressed but I think Rafa will prevail in their next matches by virtue of his ability to outwit him .

  2. I am not going to draw conclusions based on a exhibition match lets see how brisbane will go. I desperatly hope that rafa will be fit for the australian open. I know nothing about bad ankle. If he does not play then game set match and the title to novak djokovic

    By the way new way of serve i got the sence that rafa was feeling uncomfortable with that serve i would be much happier if he goes back tot the us open 2010 serve much beter

  3. While we hate to see you lose, we are so glad to have you back on the court. This must be a learning experience for your team to build upon. All the best in your return campaign.👏💪👍❤️

  4. Long time away from tennis, you’ve just begun. We abhor losing but that makes winning so DEVINE. So proud of you.lA
    I can’t wait for the Australia Open.
    I heard a rumor going around you take the Championship this year.
    That definatley sounds the best to me.

  5. What do you guys think about Rafa’s new serve motion?
    Also i heard that Rafa wasn’t sure about playing AO 2019 due to his bad ankle. Could anyone confirm it please?

    • Hi Rafael,
      Are you in Mallorca? Sure glad your playing again and a new serve. Are you playing Brisbane? Welcome back we surely missed you. ML

    • I liked the new motion . There is more speed on the serve . As for his foot , he looked limber and fluid .

  6. Fabulous to see you back the king of tennis so you did not win
    Just wait when you arrive in Australia
    For the big games & I am sure you know your crown is waiting 👑 can’t wait it will be fabulous see you soon 🎾👀
    Gold Coast Australia 🇦🇺

  7. It’s so good to see Rafa back in action. I didn’t expect him to go full throttle, considering it’s his first competitive match since his withdrawal from the US Open. A first match against Anderson is quite a stern test, so if he’s happy with how things went at this stage, then that’s good enough for me. I look forward to seeing how he gets on in Brisbane.

  8. Thanks again to Margo for suggesting where to look for a live stream.

    Obviously I’d be happier if Rafa had won, but I thought he played quite well for a first match in nearly four months. He seemed to be getting a high percentage of first serves in (by eye, can’t find any stats) and, as Carlos Moya recently said he wished for Rafa, keeping the points short. There wasn’t a single long rally in the match. Rafa played a few nice volleys, especially at the beginning of the second set.

    The biggest problem was with hitting balls out, mostly long. There were a LOT of those and it’s hard to guess why, possibly just lack of matchplay or maybe trying to hit a winner to end the point – some of then would have been, had they been more controlled/accurate.

    I don’t think Rafa was happy with his performance, there was a fair amount of gesticulating to his team. It could be that he was uncomfortable with trying a new style of play. I’m honestly not sure what to make of this match.

    • jas_uk, thanks so very much for your observations and analysis, especially since I didn’t get to see Rafa’s match.

    • Until Australian Open he has plenty of time to fix all those things that didn’t work in Abu Dhabi.
      I think it was a very smart move to play only one match there. He has got many answers and with so many years on tour he and his team know exactly what to do next to be 100% fit for the first Grand Slam of the year.

  9. Getting through three sets OK in his first match sounds positive. Just please, please no more injuries at the Australian Open – I can’t take it happening again! So glad to see him back.

  10. Glad to see Rafa back on court. We missed you Rafa, welcome back. Looking forward to seeing you in 2019😍xx

    • Rafa vs Kevin match: 6-4, 3-6, 4-6. I hope Rafa is ok because he was expected to play another match [vs Karen] but he has withdrawn from the tournament.

      • Thanks for the update Margo. Hope Rafa pulled out as precautionary measure not injury. Really hoping and praying hard that Rafa wins aus open this year. Vamos💪💪💪

  11. I am so glad that Rafa continues to take baby steps in his 1st match back since his injury. A defeat in this case isn’t a bad thing. I didn’t see the match but heard it was very competitive.
    That is a great sign for Rafa’s 2019 season. Best wishes and continued good health.

  12. We must remember this event is an exhibition and Rafa is returning from injury.
    I would pay little attention to the result moreso that hes back on court and healthy

  13. I have seen highlights of the match and Rafa was not giving 100 %, more like 80 %. I like what he did in the first set. He punishing Anderson’s second serve, being very aggresive.

    Rafa is looking good!

  14. I could not see the match but tracked some of it by live scores. Rafa had a couple of chances to break Anderson in the third set, but could not. Kevin was serving well and had at least 13 aces to Rafa’s 3. This was a tough match for his first one back from injury. It was a very competitive match so I don’t think Rafa will be too disappointed.

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