World no. 2 Novak Djokovic missed a chance to fight for the fifth Mubadala World Championship crown, losing in the semi-final to Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets. On Saturday, Novak grabbed the third place, beating Karen Khachanov 7-5, 6-3 after a reliable performance, getting broken only once and stealing Karen's serve thrice to move over the finish line and grabbed the win.
The Serb grabbed a break in the second game of the match with a backhand down the line winner, hitting a poor smash in the next game to suffer a break and bring Karen back to the positive side of the scoreboard. Both players served well in the upcoming games, delivering easy points with the initial shot and standing strong after the first groundstroke for eight commanding holds.
Out of sudden, Djokovic stepped up his game to grab a break at love in the 12th game with a return winner, taking the opener 7-5 after 40 minutes and hoping for more of the same in set number two. There, Novak sailed through his service games, keeping the pressure on Karen and waiting for a chance on the return patiently.
After the initial hold, Khachanov lost serve at 1-2 following a costly double fault, confirming the advantage in the next game and moving closer to the finish line. Karen delivered stunning tweener in the seventh game but it wasn't enough to keep him in contention, with Novak holding after a forehand attack and forging a 5-2 advantage.
The Russian reduced the deficit before Djokovic sealed the deal with a service winner in game nine, leaving Abu Dhabi with one win under his belt and continuing with preparations for the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. Novak will lead Serbia at the inaugural team competition before heading to Adelaide and Melbourne where he claimed the title in 2019.