Rafael Nadal returned to the courts after a long hiatus in the latter half of 2018, only to be beaten by the South African Kevin Anderson at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, in his first match at the at the International Tennis Stadium at Zayed Sports City.
The South African came back from a set down, to register a win over the Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Although this was an event which has no points at stake, Rafael Nadal will be disappointed after a close encounter, which he could easily have won, as he would have loved to have some wins under his belt before heading off to compete for the Australian open crown.
The world No 6, Kevin Anderson, will now face the winner of Novak Djokovic or Karen Khachanov in the final that will be held on Saturday. The Duo will face off shortly, with the match starting at 7.30 pm local time.
Nadal looked to be in command of a competitive first set, that had seen six service holds and was also followed by three breaks in a row, out of which two went Nadal’s way. This put the four-time champion in the driver’s position, as he sealed the set with a forehand smash winner.
However, Anderson’s persistence yielded results, as he hit back and broke in the sixth game with a brilliant forehand, that forced an error from Rafael Nadal, which sailed long into the back of the court. With the scores level, the third set seemed to be a tense affair with both players failing to capitalize on break points.
But it was Kevin Anderson who made the all important breakthrough in the ninth game, with Nadal gifting him an unforced error. Kevin Anderson then served the match out, with ease to secure the win as well as a place in the finals. Rafael Nadal will still have a match in his schedule left to play which will be for the third place play-off.