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Russia’s Andrey Rublev celebrates with the trophy after winning Mubadala Tennis Championship final match against Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: REUTERS

Abu Dhabi: World No 5 Andrey Rublev outclassed Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6(2) in the World Tennis Championship exhibition event final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Both players held their opening two service games but Rublev edged ahead when he broke Murray in the fifth game after a series of fiercely-fought rallies from the back of the court.

The 24-year-old Russian ran Murray ragged with his powerful groundstrokes but the Briton managed to hold on before Rublev’s pressure paid off and he took the set with a stunning forehand down the line.

The 34-year-old Murray, a former world No 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion, got off to a poor start in the second set when he lost serve in the first game before fighting back to force a tiebreaker which Rublev dominated to clinch victory.

“I got three good matches here... Andrey played really well today. He’s got a really big game... I just need to find a way to turn some of these matches against these top players around,” said Murray.

“I’m looking forward. I’m healthy, I just need to find a way of turning things my way in matches against the biggest players and having good runs at the biggest tournaments. If you guys would like me to come back then I’d love to come back. It’s a fantastic way to get ready for the new season.”

Earlier, 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal fell to a second consecutive defeat on his comeback from a foot injury when he lost 6-7(4), 6-3, 10-6 to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in the match to decide third place.

Nadal, making his first tournament appearance since the Washington Open in August, edged a close tiebreak in the opening set but struggled with his timing as Shapovalov found his range and closed out the win.

“It’s my third time here and I always love coming. You get quality matches against top players. It’s great to have these types of matches ahead of the new season, that’s why we are here; it’s great preparation,” Rublev said

“It’s a huge pleasure to share a court with Andy. He is a special player; a true legend and it was a great match. I think the spectators enjoyed it and that is what we are playing tennis for.”

Asked if he will be back to defend his title, the smiling Olympic mixed doubles champion, added: “If you invite me and Andy, we’d love to come back!”

— Reuters