December 30, 2016
A sell-out stadium at The Zayed Sport City’s International Tennis Centre witnessed two sensational semi-finals on Day Two of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, as debutant David Goffin beat World No.1 Andy Murray in a game of gigantic rallies and unrelenting athleticism from the World No.11. Before fans could recover, reigning champion Rafael Nadal out powered Milos Raonic to join Goffin in the Grand Final.
Today’s results mean that Murray will play Raonic in a remake of the Wimbledon Final for third place at 1pm, followed by the final at 3pm. Fans can still get hold of tickets for the New Year’s Eve final to end the year in style from www.ticketmaster.ae, Virgin Megastores or the box office at International Tennis Centre, The Zayed Sports City.
After receiving a bye through to Day Two, Murray stepped out in Abu Dhabi for his first match of the season while Goffin already had one under his belt from a win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the previous day. The pair pumped up the crowd with a first set full of blistering rallies lasting 54 minutes and covering every inch of the court. Taking it to a tie breaker, Goffin took it 7-6 with precise hits and energetic movements. The second set was just as dramatic. After no breaks of serve in the first set, Murray broke Goffin 3-2 before the Belgian’s liveliness was too much for Murray’s serve and Goffin took the set and match 6-4.
Commenting on this performance, Goffin said: “I’m really happy with the way I played, and again I think I served well. It’s not easy to serve against Andy because he puts a lot of pressure on you with his aggressive returns. I’m pleased that I maintained my level of serve, fought on the baseline and was effective when I came to the net to take break points. I had opportunities in the second set, and I took them, finishing strong like I did yesterday.”
“The full stadium meant the atmosphere was really nice tonight. I played good tennis and hopefully the fans were happy to see a good match. I’m really focused on what I need to do and the win has given me a lot of confidence in my game and for the season ahead.”
After the match, Murray commented: “I was striking the ball well. It was a pretty high-quality match for the first in the year after a break so it was good, just a bit unfortunate in the end. I’ve played here a number of times and I’ve always enjoyed it.
You’re practicing and playing matches against some of the best players in the world, so it’s a great way to start the year and get into a good rhythm. It sharpens you up and I’m happy to be back.”
The second semi-final of the night gave fans a sense of déjà vu, as last year’s finalists Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal clashed on the court once more. Nadal started his match the same way as yesterday, bolting from the baseline to break Raonic and take the first set 6-1. Raonic recovered well in the second using his dominant serve to overpower Nadal and steal the set 6-3. Pushing it to a three set thriller, Nadal’s focus and fire shone through to win 6-3 and continue his hopes of a fourth Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.
Speaking after his win, Nadal said: “It was a great start for me again in the first set. I had a good chance in the second, but Milos started playing great from the base line and his serves were huge. In the third set, I played better and more aggressively. Milos is a great player, he’s third in the world, and it was a positive match for me.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, Nadal will face Goffin for the first time. He commented: “David and I practice together at most tournaments. I know him and he knows me. But in competitions it is always different and I hope it will be an interesting match together. David plays so quick, I will need to change direction and the rhythm of the ball.”
Raonic will play Murray for third-place, in what will be a remake of this year’s Wimbledon final. Raonic commented: “These are the guys you want to come up against if you want to succeed this season. It’s exciting [to face Andy] – I was able to watch some of this match tonight. There’s some things I’m going to try and implement better in my game tomorrow, and enjoy the match.”
Earlier in the day, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga battled it out in the fifth place play off. Taking a set each, the match went to a super tie break with Tsonga taking the win and the fifth place. The pair then stayed on court to play doubles with local Emirati players.
All four semi-final players will treat the crowds once more, playing again on the final day of the tournament. Murray and Raonic will go head-to-head for third place at 1pm, before the Grand Final of Goffin vs Nadal at 3pm. The New Year’s Eve Final gives fans plenty of time to watch the best tennis players before watching the fireworks with the family. Limited tickets are still available starting from AED 50, with exclusive premier hospitality packages also available from AED 1,400. Head to www.ticketmaster.ae, Virgin Megastores or the box office at International Tennis Centre, The Zayed Sports City to secure your seat in the final.