December 18, 2021
Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev capped a memorable Mubadala World Tennis Championship return with a stunning final for fans inside the International Tennis Centre, at Zayed Sport City, which saw world No.5 Rublev emerge victorious to secure a first MWTC title in Abu Dhabi.
Three days of high-quality tennis and entertainment attracted thousands of spectators eager to experience the festival atmosphere of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship once again. And after an enthralling weekend on and off the court, Murray and Rublev delivered a fitting finale to the 13th Arabian Gulf’s leading professional tennis experience.
Following Ons Jabeur’s moment of history in the women’s match on Thursday, becoming the first Arab to play, and win, at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, it was the turn of Rublev to make his mark on Saturday evening.
Rublev broke Murray in the game nine and held serve to win the first set 6-4. In the first game of the second set Murray put a backhand into the net at 30-40 on his own serve, giving Rublev the perfect start to set two. The Russian ace went on the attack in his next service game, winning 40-15 take a 2-0 lead.
Two-time champion Murray, who has looked sharped on his comeback in Abu Dhabi, mounted his own offensive and broke back before taking a 5-4 lead and went searching for the break to level the match. But Rublev dug in to square the second set at 5-5.
The pair then traded service games taking the set to a tie-break, Rublev roared to a 4-0 lead and, despite the best efforts of his opponent he held firm to take it 7-2 – sealing a 6-4, 7-6 victory and collecting a first Mubadala World Tennis Championship title in his third appearance.
“It’s my third time here and I always love coming. You get quality matches against top players. It’s great to have these types of matches ahead of the new season, that’s why we are here; it’s great preparation.
“It’s a huge pleasure to share a court with Andy. He is a special player; a true legend and it was a great match. I think the spectators enjoyed it and that is what we are playing tennis for.
When asked if he will be back to defend his title, the smiling Olympic mixed doubles champion, added: “If you invite me and Andy, we’d love to come back!”
An upbeat Murray said: “I always enjoy coming back, I played three really good matches, but Andrey played really well. He has a very good game, but I’ll take the positives, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my week, thanks for having me back.
“I’m looking forward. I’m healthy, I just need to find a way of turning things my way in matches against the biggest players and having good runs at the biggest tournaments. If you guys would like me to come back then I’d love to come back. It’s a fantastic way to get ready for the new season.”
Rublev was presented with the 13th Mubadala World Tennis Championship trophy by HE Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mabarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. HH Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Tennis Federation awarded the runners-up trophy to Murray in the presence of HE Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group CEO of Mubadala Investment Company and Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer of UAE Investments at Mubadala Investment Company.
“The return of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship was an important milestone in our mission to promote physical activity and foster active, healthier communities, especially during the UAE’s Golden Jubilee. This year’s event was a great opportunity to reconnect and sets a new benchmark as we move forward towards the next 50,” said H.E Homaid Al Shimmari, Deputy Group CEO and Chief Corporate & Human Capital Officer of Mubadala Investment Company.
“We have been blessed with three days of fantastic action, including a historic first for Arab tennis with Ons Jabeur’s inspirational victory in the women’s match. Congratulations to Ons and to our men’s champion Andrey Rublev, who showed determination and skill to overcome our impressive former champion, Andy Murray.”
“We are extremely proud and thankful for the collaboration and commitment from our partners, players and fans who have helped make the 13th Mubadala World Tennis Championship, arguably, the most memorable edition to date – despite these challenging times. We’ve witnessed three days of enthralling action and entertainment, on and off the court, reinforcing Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a destination for world-class events. Congratulations to Andrey Rublev, our 2021 Champion, who delivered some memorable moments here for our fans and is a worthy name to add to our list of illustrious MWTC champions. We are already working on the 14th edition of the tournament and look forward to welcoming another line-up of global superstars for our loyal fans” said John Lickrish, CEO, Flash Entertainment.
Earlier in the day, Denis Shapovalov secured third place with a strong performance against reigning champion Rafa Nadal. The world No.14 broke the Nadal serve early in the opening set, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion responded with a break in game 10, before taking the first set with a commanding performance in the tie-break
Shapovalov refused to back down, though, and was solid in both defence and attack having already played two matches on the MWTC this weekend. He broke the Nadal serve again midway through the second set and held on to take it 6-3, sending the match into a super tie-break. And the Canadian continued to look sharp, taking the set 10-6 to seal third place in his first Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
“I’m really happy with the way I played here in Abu Dhabi. I played three matches to a high level. The matches were all really intense and that’s great ahead of the new season,” said Shapovalov.
“I’d love to come back next year. It’s really helped me, and it is a pleasure to be here. I didn’t come here to mess around, and the trip has been worth it. Rafa might not have been at its best but there were times when we both played at a really high level.”
Nadal said: “I made a couple of mistakes that I shouldn’t have, but it’s been a positive week, having the opportunity to practice outdoor in great weather, and play with great players. I was able to show a competitive level in two matches this week and that is a very positive thing for me. I still believe I will be competitive as I have been for the past 15 years, and I have the motivation and passion to achieve my goals.”
“I hope I will be able to keep coming to Abu Dhabi. I have had a lot of success here and I enjoy coming here,” added the five-time MWTC champion.