Rafael Nadal made a winning start of the new 2017 season, clinching his 4th Mubadala World Tennis Championship title in Abu Dhabi to move ahead of Novak Djokovic who stayed on 3. Rafa had to work hard in the title match, ousting David Goffin 6-4 7-6 after an hour and 53 minutes of great battle, in what has been their first meeting (they never played an official match before). Goffin was in a great form in these 3 days, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray, and he certainly had his chances today, at least to take one set.
He was aggressive and determined to not let Nadal control the rallies, taking the ball early and pushing Nadal out of his comfortable position. This tournament served as a preparation for the next week's official events but they both give their best to be victorious in the end, with dynamic and hard hitting from the baseline.
Nadal's groundstrokes worked well, maybe not as good as against Berdych and Raonic, but it was enough to bring him the triumph in the end, as he was mentally stronger than his rival in the closing moments of the second set.
It was a tight contest right from the start, with both finding the range of their shots. Goffin created a first chance on the return, in game 5, but Nadal fends off that break point with a good serve. The result stayed with serve until game 10 when David served to stay in the opening set, and Nadal saw his chance to put a little bit more pressure with his return.
That was efficient and Spaniard moved 15-40 in front, with 2 set points up for grab. He only needed the first, using the slow serve from Goffin to impose his shots in the rally and that break was enough for him to take the opener 6-4.
Nevertheless, Goffin made a nice comeback in the first game of the second set to break Nadal and go in front for the first time since the beginning of the match. Rafa wasted no time before he pulled it back in the very next game after some errors from the Belgian, and the result was locked once again.
David stayed focused and he broke Nadal's serve in game 3 as well, and this time he confirmed the break with a solid service game that sent him 3-1 ahead. Nadal was back in contention when he stole Goffin's serve in game 6 after costly double fault from David.
The pace was not like in the opening set but the crowd could see very interesting enclosure of set number 2, with the result going back and forth all the time. Goffin had a break point in game 9 that Nadal saved with some good forehands, but the ultimate test stood in front of defending champion in game 11 when he faced 6 break points! Rafa had to dig deep to repel them all and eventually he did after some 10 minutes to stay ahead.
David did a good job in the final game of the set, and the break was to decide the winner. Nadal opened it better but Goffin climbed back to 5-5, only to lose the next point, as he was powerless against mighty cross court forehand from Rafa.
This mini-break was all that Spaniard needed to bring the match home, he took the tie break 7-5 after an amazing rally that ended with David's error, and that put the curtain down on this year's Mubadala event. All results : 1/4: David Goffin vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2) 6-4
Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-4 1/2: David Goffin vs Andy Murray 7-6(4) 6-4
Rafael Nadal vs Milos Raonic 6-1 3-6 6-3 Final: Rafael Nadal vs David Goffin 6-4 7-6(5) 3rd Place: Andy Murray vs Milos Raonic 6-3 7-6(8) 5th Place: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Tomas Berdych 6-7(5) 6-3 10-3 ALSO READ: Mubadala WTC: Goffin oust Murray to set up a final clash with Nadal who defeat Raonic