ABU DHABI, December 29, 2018
Novak Djokovic is the champion of the 2018 Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) in Abu Dhabi. The World No. 1 fought past last year’s winner Kevin Anderson 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in Saturday’s final.
Anderson had the better start into the match, broke Djokovic in the ninth game and served the opening set out in the following. Atmosphere heated up on an almost fully packed Centre Court when the 31-year-old Serbian pushed the match the distance with a break in the 12th game of the second set.
Djokovic seemed to be highly motivated to win this high-quality encounter and with the support from the crowd at Zayed Sports City, the 14-time Grand Slam champion eventually converted his fifth match point to seal victory and a prize cheque of $250,000 after two hours and 14 minutes.
“I am happy that I had a match like this,” Djokovic said after his fourth triumph in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The Serbian also lifted the trophy in the desert between 2011 and 2013. “Kevin was pumped right from the beginning. I took me a little bit and the he got me fired up as well. It was very close. I wanted to win as much as he did and you could see it. There was positive tension on the court today. I had one of the best match points I have ever had and I worked hard for the win.”
Djokovic will open the 2019 ATP-Tour season at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in Doha against Damir Dzumhur. He will also play doubles alongside his brother Marko.
Anderson pleased with performance
Anderson who had stated before the Championship began that his primary goal was to play both Nadal and Djokovic to test his game, said: “I played really good tennis over the last few days. There are a few things here and there that I need to work on but pleased with the quality of my game throughout the tournament. I was happy with my game tonight and I can leave with a ton of positives.
“I really tried to simulate match conditions as much as I could and, in the end, I didn’t create enough opportunities on his serve. Had a few in-roads in his serve game, but couldn’t afford to lose my serve games,” added the South African.
Khachanov beats alternate Thiem
Earlier in the day, Karen Khachanov fought past Dominic Thiem 6-4, 3-6, 10-3. The 25-year-old Austrian replaced Rafael Nadal, who announced to take some time off after losing to Kevin Anderson.
“Today was a good match. We had some nice and exciting rallies with powerful shots,” said Khachanov, who will start the 2019 ATP-Tour in Doha next week.
What does the Russian think of Djokovic’s level after he played him in Friday’s semi-finals. “I think he played very well. It seems like he is feeling healthy, comfortable and physically ready. He hit the ball very hard. It’s tough to compare with Paris Masters because the conditions are completely different. The court is much faster here and playing in the desert with dry air the balls fly much more.”