ABU DHABI, December 28, 2017
Kevin Anderson and Roberto Bautista-Agut won their opening matches on Day 1 of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. The US Open runner-up from South Africa beat World No. 10 Pablo Carreño Busta 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the first encounter at the Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City on Thursday.
Big-serving Anderson broke the Spaniard in the fourth game of the opening set to take a 3-1 lead. Both players went on to hold serve for the next two service games before the 6’8” South African went on to close out the set in 49 minutes.
The second set was a much more closely fought affair. Under pressure from Anderson, at 2-2 and 30-40 down in the fifth game, Carreño Busta held his nerve with a couple of booming forehand winners. With no break in serves, the second set went into a tie-break where the South African totally dominated to take the set and match in one hour and 48 minutes.
“It is always important to get back on the court after a few weeks of training and it was a good opportunity for me to be here. There are a lot of positives for me to take home from this match,” said Anderson, who has returned to Abu Dhabi for the second time. “There were a bunch of positives in the match today. My body felt good. I mixed in two or three serve and volleys. It’s nice to compete again against such a tough opponent.”
Anderson To Face Thiem
Next up for Anderson will be Dominic Thiem, who will make his debut at the MWTC. The big-serving South African leads 6-0 in head-to-head records with Thiem. However, their last encounter at the ATP 500 event in Washington was a tough fight. The Austrian was up a break in the final set but Anderson saved match point and eventually prevailed in the tie-break 7-5.
“I have played against him a few times and have had good success against him. In the past, they have been very close matches.Dominic is an excellent player. I expect another close match and a good test tomorrow. I am looking forward to the match,” Anderson told.
Carreño Busta, who is playing for the first time in Abu Dhabi, said, “I think this match for me was important. I am trying to improve my game and be more aggressive. I changed a little bit with my serve and I need to practice it more but I think the match was good for me.”
The Spaniard added, “The court was quick and similar to the Australian Open so I think it was good for me to get some hits before the first Grand Slam of the new season.”
Bautista-Agut Beats Rublev
In the day’s second match, Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut brushed aside 20-year-old Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2. The #NextGen ATP Russian who was a recent entrant to the Championship was no match for the higher seeded player as he tried to match the Spaniard shot-for-shot.
After being down 1-4 in the opening set, Rublev finally found his range with a series of powerful forehand winners to fight back to 4-5. However, the experienced Agut held on to take the opening set 7-5. In the second set, the Spaniard raced away to a 4-1 lead and wrapped up the match in just one hour and 26 minutes.
“I worked a lot on my return and first serve and they worked well today,” said Bautista-Agut, who will be the first opponent for Novak Djokovic at his comeback on Friday.
“I am happy to play against him again. I played some tough matches with him and I always enjoy playing against Novak,” the Spaniard is looking forward to the encounter.