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ATP | Tennis Update • Rafa Nadal Pulls Out • Novak Djokovic Versus Anderson In Abu Dhabi Finals

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his semi final match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 28 December 2018. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER
Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his semi final match against Karen Khachanov of Russia at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 28 December 2018. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It will be Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson–a rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon final–Mubadala World Tennis Championship title tilt on Saturday evening in Abu Dhabi. Djokovic made routine work of Karen Khachnov in the semifinals, while Anderson overcame Rafael Nadal in three sets.

 

Following his 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 setback against the South African, Nadal withdrew from Saturday’s third-place matchup against Khachanov. The second-ranked Spaniard insists it is only a precaution, indicating that he got more than enough match practice in advance of the 2019 season thanks to his difficult three-setter with Anderson.

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his semi final match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 28 December 2018. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during his semi final match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 28 December 2018. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

“I need to take it step by step after my (ankle) surgery, but that’s a positive start,” Nadal noted. “I am not making steps back, just steps forward all the time, taking care of my body after a while without having a chance to be on court and trying to do things slowly. It’s important for me to protect the body and to avoid tough circumstances. I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 percent.”

 

Djokovic still has the Abu Dhabi championship match to contest after taking Khachanov to the 6-2, 6-2 woodshed on Friday, but the top-ranked Serb is understandably looking ahead to Melbourne. He has a chance to secure a seventh title Down Under, which would allow him to hold three of the four majors on the heels of 2018 triumphs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

 

“The Australian Open is a tournament where you want to shine and give your best,” Djokovic said. “I’m really looking forward to the Australian Open because that is where I have had my most successful Grand Slam. I know I have not had a good time in the last couple of years, that great of a performance. I was injured and going through physical difficulties.

 

“But I’m fit this time and back to No. 1 in the world, playing good tennis in the last six months. Hopefully, I will be able to transfer that into success at the Australian Open.”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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