Abu Dhabi: World number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic served strong notice of his intention to win the Mubadala World Tennis Championship here with a clinical display in disposing of last year’s runner-up David Ferrer 6-0, 6-3 on Friday.
Starting off with an ace, Djokovic raced into a 5-0 lead within 17 minutes and then wrapped up the match despite some resistance from the world number five from Spain.
Bidding to stop the red-hot Djokovic from winning his third title here on Saturday will be another Spaniard in Nicolas Almagro. The world number 11, a last-minute replacement for the ill Rafael Nadal, rallied from a set down to deny an all–Serbian final with a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Janko Tipsarevic.
The two semi-final losers will play for third place from 3pm on Saturday, with the final due to follow at 5pm.
Ferrer, who lost last year’s final 6-2, 6-1 to Djokovic, found himself on the receiving end of a superb exhibition of tennis by the world number one.
Djokovic displayed all-round brilliance and his craftsmanship on court was at a level that made even the world number five look a novice at times.
After wrapping up the first set in 26 minutes, the champion was broken in the second game of the second set and looked in a spot of bother in the next game. But some delicate drop shots and a couple of crisp winners down the line bailed him out and soon he broke back and then went on to win the set in 44 minutes.
“The way I was playing in the three matches here [last year] and today, I am definitely surprised with my game considering the fact that this is the first match of the official season for me,” the Serbian star said.
“This is a great surface when preparing for Australia [Australian Open starting on January 14]. I think the people here, Mubadala, are doing a great job.
“We love it here. We come days before to practice and to enjoy the beautiful weather. It is not too warm, not cold, it is ideal to prepare. And it is nice to see so many come here to enjoy the tennis,” he added amidst cheers from a near-full Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium.
Thanking the Serbian supporters in his native lingo, Djokovic said: “So many Serbian flags in the crowd. It is definitely great to see the Serbian flags increasing every year. It is definitely encouraging for me. And I am definitely trying to get as much positive energy from the people.”
Ferrer, who will soon leave for an event in Doha, hailed his superior rival. “He has all the shots. Novak is playing very consistent, he is in a very good moment now, very confident,” Ferrer said.
Despite his second defeat at the hands of the champion, he said: “I am okay, trying every game, every match. Of course I will try to improve. Sometimes you play some matches better, some are worse. Of course I did not play well today, but I have to be positive.”