Rafa Nadal loses on return at Mubadala World Tennis Championship
It wasn’t a triumphant return to tennis for Rafael Nadal this time around, but even he wouldn’t have expected to win only two games in his semi-final match against Andy Murray in the Mubadala Tennis Championships. Still it was a very good match for both players, and Nadal will no doubt take a lot of positives from his 2-6, 0-6 loss against Murray.
Murray started brightly
Murray started proceedings with a hold of serve after some exchanges from the baseline. Murray made some strong returns and some rustiness on Nadal’s part saw him staring down at two break points on his opening service game. Murray broke when Nadal fired a backhand into the net.
Murray was well on his way to 3-0 when Nadal produced two strong returns on the forehand and backhand side and forced a deuce. A long battle followed, with Murray saving multiple break points before he finally led 3-0 following a Nadal unforced error.
Nadal kept the aggression going on his serve, but Murray’s counter attack was equally, if not more impressive. Nadal brought out the first of his trademark forehand winners and won his first game of the year. Murray played lights out tennis to take a 4-1 lead. He repeatedly attacked Nadal’s backhand, forcing error after error out of the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
Few moments of magic by the Spaniard
Nadal played with authority in his next service game. He moved Murray around and smashed an overhead winner. But an unlucky net cord gave Murray a chance to double break. Nadal saved it by forcing an error and produced a vintage inside-out forehand to reach game point and closed it out with a classy drop shot.
Murray held on for a 5-2 lead. Nadal conceded two break points again, but this time wasn’t able to save them as he made another unforced error and conceded the first set 6-2.
One-sided second set
Murray started serving in the second set as well, holding serve and breaking Nadal to race to a 2-0 lead. Nadal was clearly unable to find his range despite being able to hit some incredible shots every now and then.
After saving five break points in the third game, Murray held serve, fully deserving to do so. The strain of it all showed, and Nadal was broken again, as Murray took a 4-0 lead.
Murray continued his amazing run of play in another long service games to take a 5-0 lead. Murray finished the match with a love break, rounding up his commanding display.
A lot of rust in Nadal’s play as expected and also a reminder of how quickly he has to get back on track to full match form if he has to harbour any chances for a shot at the Australian Open. Murray, on the other hand, had a much improved performance from yesterday’s match against Lopez, and will now proceed to play the final against Novak Djokovic.
Semi-finals: Andy Murray def. Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-0.