Nadal repeats as champion in Abu Dhabi

Rafael Nadal won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship for the fourth time in his career and for a second straight year when he defeated David Goffin 6-4, 7-6(5) on Saturday. This marked the first occasion on which Nadal did not earn an opening bye as one of the top two seeds, but he managed to navigate his way through three matches.

Goffin, who has still never faced Nadal in official ATP competition, booked his spot in the final by taking out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and world No. 1 Andy Murray. The 11th-ranked Belgian did not have as much luck against Nadal, although he did well to make it competitive. Neither man got broken until Goffin served to stay in he first set. Following the hiccup at 4-5, the underdog briefly turned the tide in his favor with a break for 2-1 in the second. Nadal, however, got back on serve at 3-3 and survived a one-hour and 14-minute second set in a tiebreaker.

“When you have success this many times here, it’s because of something special,” the 14-time major champion told his Abu Dhabi fans.”You like the court, you like the place, and you especially like the crowd. I’m very happy here. It’s a great atmosphere and I feel the love of the people. Many thanks to everybody who makes this great event possible each year. Next year is the 10th edition, which shows it is special.

“I’m very happy to be back in competition after several months out,” Nadal added. “I had some problems with my wrist. But it’s a new year and I’m very excited. These three days have been great for me, to be back and playing at this level. I’m very happy and I wish everybody a happy new year.”

“I’ve really enjoyed being here in Abu Dhabi,” Goffin commented. “I would like to thank everybody who organized this fantastic event. I’ve spent three wonderful days here and I will come back if I can–of course, no doubt.”

In the third-place contest, Murray got the best of Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6(6).

“It was quite tricky with the shadows returning Milos’ serve, but I did a pretty good job of that,” the top-seeded Scot assessed. “I was timing the ball quite well, but there’s a few things I can still do better. It was good for me to get two good matches in with two top players in Goffin and Raonic. It’s been a productive couple of days.”

“I did a lot of things that are positive takeaways, and I think that’s what I have to focus on most going into the next few weeks,” Raonic noted. “I got myself into trouble with things I’m trying to incorporate into my game. In tournaments you don’t always play two of the best returners in the game (Nadal and Murray), so it’s a different scenario. I think I’m missing a little bit of mental strength; I had break points I should have executed. I need to take a step forward mentally, as physically I think I am doing a lot of things well.”


19 Comments on Nadal repeats as champion in Abu Dhabi

  1. I am very happy that Rafa came back with a title!

    It’s a great way to get ready for the new year!

    Congratulations champ!

  2. A win is a win is a win but I am not greatly excited. He won this last year too and then went and injured his wrist before RG. Unlike some others here I know Rafa’s problem is his body and not his mind. Obviously he feels anxious when he knows his body is fragile and he cannot play his forehand in the old way for fear of opening old injuries.
    After AO 2014, he hasn’t been the same and has lost faith in his body. When he decided to risk going all out in 2016, he injured his wrist.
    I did not watch Mubadala live but from the pictures published I don’t see that exuberance which would prove he is confident that his body can withstand the extreme stresses he would have to subject it to if he plays fearlessly. I know he will risk everything at RG. I am praying really hard that he wins it.

      • They mean nothing in terms of points and ranking, but I wouldn’t say they mean nothing altogether, especially Abu Dhabi which is kind of the unofficial launch to the season. I watched all of Rafa’s matches, plus Goffin v Murray, and none of them looked like they were in Exo mode. Obviously, it wasn’t a pressured situation, but I still think some conclusions can be taken from the event regarding Rafa’s game. He definitely seems more aggressive, which Raonic commented on afterwards.

    • Largely down to injury though. With the exception of the AO loss and the South American semi losses, he had a very positive early 2016. Starting with Indian Wells, he went on a pretty impressive run that saw him win two back to back titles, and was only halted by his wrist injury. With the exception of the Doubles Gold medal, he was never the same after that injury.

      • I really feel Rafa’s 2016 would have been very different had he not injured his wrist. I don’t think he suffered from the same problems he had in 2015.

  3. A bit different this time, as he’s beating a better Raonic and a better Goffin. I’m positive that 2017 will be better than 2016 for Rafa.

    • I am not getting carried away at all. I know this was an Exho, but winning is winning. I am not about to start predicting Rafa going on a winning streak. But it is definitely a good way to go into the new year.

      Let’s see how Rafa does in Brisbane.

  4. Dolgo and Mischa Zverev are tricky first two round tests at Brisbane for Rafa as both don’t play a baseline game- Dolgo an unorthodox player and Zverev more a S&V player. I hope Rafa can navigate his way through to win at Brisbane!

    • I have not checked out Rafa’s draw. Soldiers and Zverev could be tricky.

      It will be interesting to see how Rafa handles them.

      • I don’t know how Dolgo became “soldiers” with autocorrect!

        But I am going to just wait and see how Rafa navigates his part of the draw in Brisbane. He’s been out of action for a while, so match play is needed for him to get the rhythm and timing back in his game.

        Winning matches will be a good thing for Rafa. I am not going to obsess or worry too much about injuries. That is something Ocer which Rafa has no control. I will just hope that he can stay healthy so that he can continue playing and get to his best level.

        I will not get carried away with expectations for the early part of the new year. I think things will fall into place if Rafa remains heslthy and can just play. I am just happy to see him back in action.

  5. Let us see how he does at Brisbane. If he loses, he is still a question mark. If he wins, we can be optimistic, though we Rafa fans know that injury is always lurking round the corner.
    Lucky makes a good point.
    The only thing I hope for in the AO draw is that Rafa should be in Nole’s half.

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