Nadal, Goffin win on day one in Abu Dhabi

Opening day at the 2016 Mubadala World Tennis Championship saw Rafael Nadal and David Goffin book spots in the semifinals alongside Andy Murray and Milos Raonic. Nadal took care of Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-4 on Thursday, while Goffin advanced with a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Always a fan favorite at the International Tennis Center, Nadal wasted no time treating the crowd to some brilliant tennis. The 14-time Grand Slam champion steamrolled through his perfect first set against Berdych in just 26 minutes. The Czech underdog made things much more competitive in the second, but he never mounted a serious charge.

“It’s difficult to imagine playing a first set like this after a long time without competing, but it happened and I enjoyed it a lot,” said Nadal, who missed much of the second half of last season because of wrist problems. “I’m excited to be back at the competition and practicing hard every day to improve. I felt that I was quick to save balls, in a great rhythm, and created opportunities with my forehand which is one of my main goals at the beginning of this season.

“He’s improved a lot on the baseline and his service is unbelievable,” the Spaniard said of Raonic, whom he defeated in last year’s Abu Dhabi title match. “It’s a match where I will need to play at my best and be very focused in every moment with my serve, and then hopefully I can play a great match.”

The other semifinal will pit Murray against Goffin after the Belgian took out Tsonga. Goffin seized control early with a break in the opening game and another for a 4-1 advantage in the first set. The Frenchman recovered for consecutive breaks of his opponent’s serve to eventually force a tiebreaker, but that’s when Goffin put his foot back on the gas pedal.

After dominating the ‘breaker seven points to two, the world No. 11 needed just one break to seal the deal in a more straightforward second set.

“I’m really happy with my performance, but I was much more solid with my serve in the second set,” Goffin commented. “When you haven’t had a match in a long time, sometimes you get so excited to be on the court. It was 4-1 in 20 minutes and I was playing so well. Then Jo came back to take it 4-4, but I started playing more consistent until the end of the match.

“When you play a tournament like this your aim is to be ready and prepare for the season, it’s not just about winning against Andy or Jo. You have to be ready, feel your game and feel comfortable in what you have to do for the season. Tomorrow I will focus on what I have to do and we will see if it is effective against Andy. The main goal will be maintain or improve, and try and enjoy the match.”

9 Comments on Nadal, Goffin win on day one in Abu Dhabi

  1. Rafa looked sharp against Berdych and last year he beat Raonic here comfortably in the final but who knows. Raonic has improved since last year so I hope Rafa is ready for a different kind of challenge to Berdych. I thought Tsonga would be the one to challenge Andy in the SF but he looked a little bit disengaged like he didn’t prepare at all and Goffin practiced with Rafa before the match so he was was very match fit.

    As usual, Rafa ignited the crowd because of his electrifying tennis especially as the match before his was a little bit low key. I don’t think Andy will have any problems with Goffin and Rafa should beat Raonic.

  2. Rafa and Goffin both win. I was pulling for both. Looks like Rafa is gonna start the year off successful in Abu Dhabi again.

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