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03 December 2023

Mubadala World Tennis Championship: Ailing Djokovic hands Murray first win of season

By Agencies

World number one Novak Djokovic withdrew from the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi on Saturday handing Andy Murray his first title of the season.

Serb Djokovic had dismissed Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals of the exhibition event on Friday but the defending champion revealed on Saturday he was suffering from a fever.

Murray had himself complained of pain in his left shoulder during his 6-2, 6-0 win over Rafael Nadal in the last four.

The 27-year-old Scot said: "I don't know exactly what happened. I've never had anything happen to my left shoulder before. It's pretty sore and at the end of the match when I was reaching out to sign autographs it was quite painful."

Murray is set to undergo a scan before continuing his build-up to the first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, at the Hopman Cup in Perth next week.

He will join Heather Watson to represent Britain at the mixed team event, with their opening match due to be against France on Monday.

The weekend of top flight sporting entertainment and fun-filled activity in the tennis village came to a close following the 3rd/4th place play off between Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka with the Spaniard Nadal winning the match 7-6, 6-3.

After the official close of the competition, with the play-off match and the trophy presentation to Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez and Nicolas Almagro played an enjoyable exhibition match on centre court which was umpired by tournament ambassador Pat Cash.

Speaking after he was crowned champion of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship for the second time, having won the inaugural trophy in 2009, Murray said: “It’s always nice to win and it gives that little bit of extra confidence. I was really happy with the way I was playing in the matches that I did play so it’s a great start to the year. It would have been perfect to play today, especially against Novak, but of course it’s not been possible due to his illness so I’ll celebrate the victory.”

After being forced to withdraw from the final due to illness Djokovic shared his disappointment with fans: “I love being a part of this tournament and I’m really disappointed not to have been able to take my chance of winning the trophy here again. Congratulations to Andy, it’s a shame I couldn’t play him but I’m sure we will meet again soon. Thank you to everyone for all of your support over the last few days.”

Djokovic’s forced retirement from the final meant the 3rd/4th match capped off an incredible few days of tennis with Nadal showing the crowds at Zayed Sports City that his return to form is well underway as he recovered from his defeat at the hands of Andy Murray the previous day.
The Spaniard got off to a strong start breaking Wawrinka in the opening games only for the Swiss to come back powerfully. The duo exchanged blows with Nadal finally taking ground in the tie-break, 7-6.

In the second set Nadal’s powerful forehands proved too much for the brave Wawrinka who was unable to defend against the big hitting Spaniard.

Speaking after his victory in the play-off match Nadal said: “Today I felt a little bit more controlled and a little quicker with my recoveries. Still it wasn’t perfect so there are things I can work on. In general it was a positive match, a good match, against a tough opponent so it’s great to have this test and a fantastic opportunity to play here two matches here in Abu Dhabi. I’d like to thank the organisers and the city for making this event possible and I am very happy to be back here competing again. I hope that my matches here will help me as I work to improve more and more this season, the key is time spent on court and I feel I have achieved that so it has been a positive and enjoyable few days.”

As the three-day annual Mubadala World Tennis Championship came to a close, fans revelled in the tournament’s final moments of glory on and off the courts at Zayed Sports City.

On the clinic court, Sweet Spot Tennis Academy from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was given a treat with a player clinic from Stan Wawrinka while Abu Dhabi fans had a chance to pick up tips from Nadal.

The UAE national team gave Mubadala World Tennis Championship Ambassador Pat Cash a run for his money during a practice-court tennis clinic, as they showcased the skills that earned them the chance to represent their nation on the global stage.

The final day of the Championship also saw autograph sessions in the Tennis Village continue with Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka meeting with fans ahead of the evening matches.