Abu Dhabi: Novak Djokovic will be bidding to win his third Mubadala World Tennis Championship in a row on Saturday — but it won’t be against fierce rival and world No 1 Rafael Nadal.
While world number two Djokovic overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets 7-6 (7), 6-3 in the second semi-final on Friday, world No 3 Ferrer shocked Nadal with a 6-4, 6-4 win at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex in Zayed Sports City yesterday.
Ferrer will hope to do better than he did in the final two years ago when Djokovic cruised to 6-2, 6-1 win.
“He [Tsonga] was playing great, high-quality tennis and I’m sure the fans would have enjoyed the game. I’m satisfied with all that I did on court today,” said a pleased-looking Djokovic after the match.
The Serb was playing in a tournament for the first time with new coach Boris Becker, who appears to have had a galvanising effect on his protégé already.
“It was great to have him [Boris[ here. We are midway through our preparations and have been on court for just the third time. It was a new experience for both of us and it went well. We spoke before the match what the future will bring for us and how we prepare,” added Djokovic.
In the match, the Serb broke Tsonga in the third game but the latter broke back in the eighth to stay in the set. After staying on level terms until the 12th game, the set was forced into the decider tiebreaker, which the Serb won 7-5.
The Frenchman, having lost the first set, lacked the same intensity in the second and a break in sixth game was enough for Djokovic to go on and wrap up the match in an hour and 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Ferrer was delighted with the way he went about his business, saying: “I was feeling good out there and was playing my best tennis. I played consistently and was good in many moments. Rafael must have not had that much practice and I have been training for a month. That would have made the difference. I feel I have more chance against Nadal on a hard court than on clay court.”
After the match stayed on serve in the first set until the sixth game, Nadal had a couple of break points in the seventh, but he failed to convert them.
However, serving to stay in the set in the 10th game, a couple of unforced errors allowed Ferrer to win it.
The second set was also fast paced and Nadal matched up with Ferrer for every point. The difference between the two was marginal, but Nadal double-faulted in the 10th game, sent a couple of returns wide and Ferrer claimed the set and the match in an hour and 26 minutes.
The fast-paced court of Abu Dhabi has tested most of the players in the tournament, and Nadal was quick to add after the loss that he had not played in a court like it for a long time.
“It was the first match [of the season] and playing against Ferrer who was 100 per cent. He had already played yesterday [on Thursday]. It was very fast court and the ball was moving so quickly. It’s one of the quickest courts I have played in the last couple of years. It was difficult but I had a few break points and few chances,” said Nadal adding: “I wasn’t 100 per cent as I just started practising last week. If you are playing the World No 3, then you have to be 100 per cent. However, I’m happy with the practice I got.”