World-class tennis returned to Abu Dhabi as the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) 10th Edition got off to an exciting start.
The opening match of the Championship saw Spain’s world number 10 Pablo Carreño Busta take on US Open finalist Kevin Anderson as the South African won 6-3, 7-6 (2) in what turned out to be a comfortable outing for the big-serving right-hander.
Playing in his first match of the season, world number 14 Anderson, broke the Spaniard in the fourth game of the opening set to take a 3-1 lead. Both players went on to hold serve for the next two service games before the 6’8” South African went on to close out the set in 49 minutes.
The second set was a much more closely fought affair. Under pressure from Anderson, at 2-2 and 30-40 down in the fifth game, Carreño Busta held his nerve with a couple of booming forehand winners. With no break in serves, the second set went into a tie-break where the South African totally dominated to take the set and match in 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Following his win, Anderson said, “It is always important to get back on the court after a few weeks of training and it was a good opportunity for me to be here. There are a lot of positives for me to take home from this match.”
Speaking about his next opponent, Dominic Thiem, Anderson said, “I have played against him a few times and have had good success against him. In the past, they have been very close matches. He is one of the best players in the world and is a great competitor. It will be an exciting match and I am looking forward to it.”
Carreño Busta who is playing for the first time in Abu Dhabi, said, “I think this match for me was important. I am trying to improve my game and be more aggressive. I changed a little bit with my serve and I need to practice it more but I think the match was good for me.”
The Spaniard added, “The court was quick and similar to the Australian Open so I think it was good for me to get some hits before the first Grand Slam of the new season.”
In the day’s second match, Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut brushed aside 20-year-old Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2. The Russian who was a recent entrant to the Championship was no match for the higher seeded player as he tried to match the Spaniard shot-for-shot.
After being down 1-4 in the opening set, Rublev finally found his range with a series of powerful forehand winners to fight back to 4-5. However, the experienced Agut held on to take the opening set 7-5. In the second set, the Spaniard raced away to a 4-1 lead and wrapped up the match in just 1 hour and 26 minutes.