Rafael Nadal’s preparations for the Australian Open have gotten off to a winning start, claiming an exhibition tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
The Spanish star defeated big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 in Saturday’s final to capture his third title at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, after winning in 2010 and 2011.
After winning a closely contested first-set tiebreak, the 14-time Grand Slam champion snagged a service break in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead and then sealed the victory with three more service holds.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a great way to start the new season winning against two of the best players in the world without a doubt, and playing at the right level – I played a good level of tennis and I’m happy for that.”
The Spaniard is looking to bounce back after a frustrating season in which he failed to win any Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and ended the year ranked No. 5.
“I am playing well now, I don’t work to be back, I work to be better than what I was two, three, five months ago. I want to improve my level all the time.
“I don’t think about what happened five or three years ago, I think about what happened yesterday to improve today. That’s my philosophy. I feel good now. I feel ready for the competition,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, his countryman David Ferrer took home third place with a victory over top-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.
Ferrer, who lost in the semifinals to Nadal, came from a set down and then rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the super-tiebreaker to win the match 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 10-8.