AN­DER­SON JOINS LIST OF MUBADALA CHAMPS

World No 14 beats Spain’s Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 in the fi­nal at Abu Dhabi and says ‘it is nice to get that tro­phy,’

The National - News - - SPORT - writes Gra­ham Cay­gill

Kevin An­der­son had said be­fore com­ing to Abu Dhabi for the 2017 Mubadala World Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship that he felt he had un­fin­ished busi­ness with the tour­na­ment.

He had lost his two matches in straight sets in Jan­uary 2016 as he strug­gled phys­i­cally with nig­gling in­juries.

But he put that dis­ap­point­ment firmly be­hind him on his sec­ond visit to the cap­i­tal as he was crowned cham­pion on Satur­day af­ter de­feat­ing Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 in the fi­nal.

An­der­son, who had reached the US Open fi­nal in Septem­ber, be­came only the fourth player af­ter Andy Mur­ray, Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic to win the ti­tle, and the South African was pleased to join their com­pany.

“It is nice to get a win,” the South African said.

“This tour­na­ment has been go­ing on for 10 years and there has been a lot of great win­ners in the past, so it is nice to get that tro­phy.”

It had looked ini­tially as if the world No 14 would dom­i­nate the match as he made a fly­ing start to pro­ceed­ings.

He broke Bautista Agut in the open­ing game as the Spa­niard struck a fore­hand into the net. He had a fur­ther chance in the fifth game to break again but Bautista Agut held on, but he was pow­er­less to pre­vent An­der­son tak­ing the set 6-4.

There ap­peared to be more ag­gres­sion to Bautista Agut’s ten­nis at the start of the sec­ond set and that was re­warded as he broke to go 2-0 up with a sear­ing cross-court shot.

But An­der­son broke straight back in the next game as Bautista Agut went long with a fore­hand.

Bautista Agut was be­gin­ning to get a much bet­ter read­ing on An­der­son’s serve, but the 31-year-old South African of­ten used his sweep­ing fore­hand to get him­self out of trou­ble from the back of the court.

There were no fur­ther breaks and the set went to a tie-break which was dom­i­nated by An­der­son, who won all seven points, clinch­ing the match when Bautista put a fore­hand into the net.

An­der­son, who had beaten Pablo Car­reno Busta in the quar­ter-fi­nals and then Do­minic Thiem in the semi-fi­nals, won the tour­na­ment with­out drop­ping a set.

“It has been three very good matches for me and in terms of my prepa­ra­tions [for the 2018 sea­son]. I could not have asked for more out of these matches,” he said.

“They were close matches and I had to com­pete, and I was able to im­ple­ment a lot of the things I was work­ing on and saw a few ar­eas that we are still look­ing at and need to push through.

“But over­all I am very pleased with these last few days.”

Bautista Agut had only been con­firmed for the line-up seven days ago af­ter the with­drawal of world No 1 Nadal.

The world No 20 was pleased with how he per­formed over the week­end, and said: “I think I played good ten­nis these three days.

“It is good to play some real matches go­ing into the sea­son and have a good rhythm.

“To­day was a great match. I played very good from the base­line and I made a lot of re­turns but I think Kevin played re­ally well.

“I think I re­turned very well. But he played re­ally well from the base­line him­self so that is why I could not make a lot of breaks.

“I was re­ally close to win­ning that sec­ond set. It was a close match and I am happy over­all with how I did.”

An­der­son, who had reached the US Open fi­nal in Septem­ber, be­came only the fourth player af­ter Andy Mur­ray, Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic to win the ti­tle

AP

South Africa’s Kevin An­der­son holds the spoils of his vic­tory over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut

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