The seventh edition of the Mubadala Tennis World Championships has come to an unfortunate ending. With world number one Novak Djokovic and 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, the tournament’s last two men standing were scheduled to go head to head in Saturday’s final. The Serb, however, has been forced to make a last-minute withdrawal from the encounter after falling ill with a fever and Andy Murray was crowned as the winner in Abu Dhabi.
“Unfortunately I am not to be able to play in the final in Abu Dhabi tonight. I’ve been sick today with a fever and I’m not fit to play. I said after my match last night, the crowds here have shown their love of tennis again this year and always inspire me to play my best so I am hugely disappointed not to be able to play for them tonight,” Djokovic said.
“I’ve had another great weekend in Abu Dhabi, meeting fans and coaching young players, and played some great tennis against the best players in the world. I love being a part of this tournament and I’m really disappointed not be able to take my chance of winning the trophy here again. Congratulations to Andy, it’s a shame I couldn’t play him today but I’m sure we will meet again soon. Thank you to everyone for all of your support over the last few days, I’ll see you soon,” the world number one added.
Murray obviously would have preferred playing the final but seemed to be satisfied and relaxed in the press conference. “I’m happy with my decision playing here in Abu Dhabi competing with the top guys because it is a very good preparation to start the year. I played two high quality matches with Feliciano and Rafa. Of course, I would have loved to have the opportunity to play with Novak, which would have been a great test again,” the Scot told the press after the on-court ceremony. “I woke up this morning and my shoulder felt ok. So I had a bit of practice and it felt just a bit sore when I was serving. I had an ultrasonic scan at the hospital here right next to the venue with a positive result. With a bit of rest and more treatment during the next couple of days, I hope it will be absolutely fine for Australia,” Murray said about his own shoulder problem he felt after yesterday’s match against Nadal.
“I will leave this evening travelling to Dubai and I have a flight at two o’clock in the morning to Perth, where we will arrive at probably six in the evening and then I will play my first match the next day in the evening,” the Brit told about his further schedule teaming up with Heather Watson at the Hopman Cup.
The tournament’s organizers seemed to be satisfied with the week in Abu Dhabi. “I think it is still one of the most successful tournaments. The player field, we presented is phenomenal and I’m very proud of that. The players played exceptionally well all days and entertained the fans both in the village and in the stands. It comes with professional sports that guys get injured. It’s terrible when someone is not able to play, as what happened today with Novak. We were fortunate to have Feliciano López and Nicolas Almagro being kind enough for playing an exhibition contest with Pat Cash in the umpire’s chair. Nonetheless, people are having fun and the tournament is a success,” the IMG-managing director Greg Sproule stated.
Consequently, the only match taking place on Saturday was the 14th meeting between two time Abu Dhabi champion Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka in a third-place play-off. The only victory for the Swiss took place at the final of last year’s Australian Open.
Nadal grabbed an even opening set after 50 minutes through a solid play in the tie-break 7-1. The Spanish world number three remained in control of the match and served out after one hour and 27 minutes winning 7-6, 6-3.
“Yesterday I made more mistakes than usual, especially with my backhand. Today I felt tired but more resistant. I was quicker and in better position hitting the balls. In general I think that I played a good match, better than yesterday against a tough opponent, too. It’s good to have a test and to get in better shape. Thank you to the organisation for the possibility playing two matches here in Abu Dhabi, which will hopefully help me in my progress to become better,” Nadal said afterwards and added that he will have another two hours practice on Sunday morning in Doha, where he will start the official season on the ATP World Tour facing a qualifier in the opening round.
“Practicing here with sunshine during the day is not a big difference to the conditions in Australia. Over there the conditions can change all the time. One day it is hot and the other almost cold. I will arrive down under on Monday night with one week of practice ahead. For me that is enough to be competitive there,” the Spaniard explained his decision playing in Doha rather than going to Australia earlier.