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
Sources: The National, Gulf News