Sunday, January 1, 2012

MWTC: Federer unfazed by double blow in Abu Dhabi

In a rematch of last year’s final, Rafael Nadal handed Roger Federer his second loss in Abu Dhabi this weekend to clinch third place in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

Federer had lost badly to Novak Djokovic the day before 6-2, 6-1 and the Swiss did not fare much better against Nadal in the third-place playoff falling to the Spaniard 6-1, 7-5 in 85 minutes.

Nadal started off looking much stronger and fresher than in his previous match with David Ferrer and the Mallorcan quickly went up 3-0.

Federer finally got on the board in the fourth game but Nadal continued to dominate as he broke again in the fifth game making Federer pay for every approach shot he made with some clever passing shots, and the world No2 wrapped up the opening set in 29 minutes.

Federer stepped up his game in the second set as he opened the set with a comfortable hold but Nadal again took the initiative and broke serve to go up 2-1 courtesy of a brilliant crosscourt backhand - a shot that went well for him throughout the course of the match - a Federer unforced error on the forehand.

But the Swiss maestro hit back this time and broke back immediately and continued to attack with his backhand and approach the net, but Nadal eventually got the crucial service break at 5-5 in a long game that saw a tweener shot from Nadal and five deuces. All the Spaniard had to was hold serve once and he did so with an emphatic inside out forehand winner, to finish the two days of match practice he needed on a high note.

Despite the two losses Federer suffered in Abu Dhabi, the world No3 is positive about his form and is looking forward to defending his title in Doha next week.
He says: “It’s fine. It’s about getting ready and feeling fine out there, enjoying great atmosphere here and getting a chance to play world class players.

“It’s a great start to a new season, try a few things, see where you’re at, not all the focus on where the other guys are at but obviously I could tell that Novak and Rafa are playing really well, which is not a surprise to me. I expected them to be in good shape for next year and they just proved that to me this weekend.

“I’m still on a 17-match winning streak which is a good thing, that gives me a lot of confidence and I can start from here now.

“It’s still early in the season, it’s not really where you want to peak at your absolute best, so I understand that and I faced this situation many times before, to not overthink these two losses to badly, it’s about moving on and taking the positives out of this.”

Meanwhile Nadal was happy to improve on his form from his Friday defeat to Ferrer. He said: “I think Roger didn’t play at his top, he didn’t push myself at the top today. He played more aggressive than usual. But anyway I think I did a few things better than yesterday and that’s the most important thing.”


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