December 21, 2019
Rafael Nadal turned on the style at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Friday night, roaring to victory over Russia’s Karen Khachanov to set up a mouthwatering final with the in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday, 21 December.
Nadal, winner of 19 Grand Slams, showed why he is starting the new season as the top-ranked player on the planet with a blistering display of power-hitting and agility to dismiss semi-final opponent Khachanov 6-1, 6-3 in just 1hr 28 mins at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City.
Chasing a fifth title on his 10th Mubadala World Tennis Championship anniversary, the Spaniard took just 43 mins seal the first set against Russia’s Khachanov, who had looked good in his quarter-final win over Hyeon Chung on Thursday.
The 2019 US Open champion didn’t let up in the second set, fizzing his way around the court and leaving his opponent with few options. Nadal broke Khachanov in the opening game of the second set, and while the Russian refused to buckle, Nadal wrapped up the semi-final in front of a capacity crowd to set up an intriguing encounter with World No. 6 Tsitsipas in Saturday’s final.
The Greek star produced a stunning comeback to down defending champion Novak Djokovic 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in Friday’s first semi-final. The championship match (not before 7pm) will follow the third-place play-off between Khachanov and Djokovic, and Nadal is relishing the chance of fifth title in the UAE capital.
“It’s nice to play some good tennis, I did almost every right. I was a little surprised by how well I played, and I hope to be able to have one more good match tomorrow in the final,” said the World No. 1.
“I’m happy I could play against Nadal at this level. Every match is a different story and you have to look back at what you did or didn’t do and if someone has played better, like today, you just have to say well done and look to get better,” said Khachanov.