Goffin upsets Murray, to face Nadal in Abu Dhabi final

Semifinal Friday at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship began with a surprise, as David Goffin downed world No.1 Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-4. Defending champion Rafael Nadal joined Goffin in the title match by beating Milos Raonic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the nightcap.

As the top seed in this six-man event, Murray earned by to the semis whereas Goffin already had a match under his belt. The Belgian defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Thursday’s quarterfinals and maintained momentum at the expense of an even tougher opponent. He stole a 54-minute first set in a tiebreaker, which saw neither man donate serve a single time. Goffin took complete control of the proceedings by breaking for a 3-2 advantage in the second.

“I’m really happy with the way I played, and again I think I served well,” the world No. 11 commented. “It’s not easy to serve against Andy because he puts a lot of pressure on you with his aggressive returns. I’m pleased that I maintained my level of serve, fought on the baseline, and was effective when I came to the net to take break points. I had opportunities in the second set and I took them, finishing strong like I did yesterday.

“The full stadium meant the atmosphere was really nice tonight. I played good tennis and hopefully the fans were happy to see a good match. I’m really focused on what I need to do and the win has given me a lot of confidence in my game and for the season ahead.”

“I was striking the ball well,” Murray assessed. “It was a pretty high-quality match for the first in the year after a break, so it was good–just a bit unfortunate in the end. I’ve played here a number of times and I’ve always enjoyed it. You’re practicing and playing matches against some of the best players in the world, so it’s a great way to start the year and get into a good rhythm. It sharpens you up and I’m happy to be back.”

The second semifinal was a rematch of last season’s championship between Nadal and Raonic. It was the Spaniard who got the best of things in 2015 and the result was the same this time around. Raonic put up a commendable fight, especially after winning just a single game in the opening set, but he could not claw all the way back.

“It was a great start for me again in the first set,” Nadal reflected. “I had a good chance in the second, but Milos started playing great from the base line and his serves were huge. In the third set I played better and more aggressively. Milos is a great player–he’s third in the world–and it was a positive match for me.

“David and I practice together at most tournaments,” the 14-time major champion added. “I know him and he knows me. But in competitions it is always different and I hope it will be an interesting match together. David plays so quick, I will need to change direction and the rhythm of the ball.”

Raonic will play Murray for third place on Saturday.

9 Comments on Goffin upsets Murray, to face Nadal in Abu Dhabi final

  1. A video clip from Rafa’s post-final press conference:
    Rafa: “My real feeling is I was playing well and these three matches confirm that”

    • More from Rafa’s post-final press confrence.

      Reem Abulleil ‏(Sports Reporter): “Nadal not in a hurry to analyze his level. Says he should wait until after the Indian Wells and Miami Masters before judging his game.”

      Stu Appleby ‏(Sports Journalist): “Nadal very pleased and excited to win the 4th Mubadala Tennis crown. He says his body is feeling strong and sends Happy New Year greetings to fans.” ? ?

  2. It’s nice to hear from Rafa after such a positive start right before the new year!

    Good going Rafa!

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