Fast and fu­ri­ous Nadal gets past Raonic

Spa­niard to un­set­tle Gof­fin in the fi­nal, their first meet­ing

The National - News - Sport - - TENNIS - [email protected]­ Ahmed Rizvi

ABU DHABI // Rafael Nadal said throw­ing giant-killing David Gof­fin off his rhythm will be the key in to­day’s Mubadala World Tennis Cham­pi­onship fi­nal as the Spa­niard squares-off against the Bel­gian in a com­pet­i­tive match for the first time.

Nadal, who had got his eighth MWTC cam­paign off with a 6-0, 6-4 win over To­mas Berdych on Thurs­day night, came out all guns blaz­ing against Mi­los Raonic in last night’s semi-fi­nal as well, winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 reach the fi­nal here for a fifth time.

“It is al­ways great to start the match like that,” said the world No 9, the de­fend­ing and three­time MWTC cham­pion. “Against Berdych, it was a re­ally im­pres­sive first set and a re­ally im­pres­sive match over­all. To­day, it was a good match again, not as good as yes­ter­day, but still it was a very match for me. I had a good chance in the sec­ond set to break at 15-40, but then I lost a bit of the in­ten­sity and he played good from the base­line. He started to serve huge, a lot of per­cent­age of first serves and sec­ond, and it was tough for me.

“In the third, I started serv­ing a bit bet­ter again and play­ing a lit­tle bit more ag­gres­sive. It was a great vic­tory against the No 3 player of the world.”

Now, Nadal will be hop­ing to make a sim­i­lar start against an op­po­nent who is blessed with re­ally quick feet and is grad­u­ally adding a po­tent serve to his arse­nal. He is pick­ing up some big­name scalps as well.

The 5 ft 11 ins Gof­fin has been felling gi­ants here on his Abu Dhabi de­but, de­feat­ing the burly Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga on Thurs­day be­fore shock­ing world No 1 Andy Mur­ray in front of a ca­pac­ity crowd yes­ter­day at the Zayed Sports City.

“I have never played in a tour­na­ment against him, but we prac­tise to­gether a lot,” said Nadal, who is play­ing his first tour­na­ment in more than two months after de­cid­ing to cut short his 2016 to treat a left wrist in­jury. “We know each other re­ally well. We prac­tise to­gether at al­most ev­ery tour­na­ment. We have a good re­la­tion­ship. “I know him and he knows me, but in com­pe­ti­tion it is al­ways dif­fer­ent. This is the first match be­tween us, and so it is go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing.

“I know we are go­ing to have a very, very tough match. He plays so quick and he plays so good, so we will see if I am able to put my rhythm on.

“Hope­fully I can change the di­rec­tion and rhythm of the ball, then I will have a bet­ter chance. If not and he is play­ing com­fort­ably, it will not be pos­si­ble.” Nadal and Gof­fin have been prac­tis­ing to­gether in Abu Dhabi as well this week and the lat­ter said the 14-time grand slam cham­pion is look­ing strong.

“He looks re­ally fit,” Gof­fin, 26, said. “I think he doesn’t have pain any­more in his wrist and all his body. I didn’t see a lot of his match against Berdych, but I heard he played re­ally good.”

Ahmed Jadal­lah / Reuters

The ninth-ranked Rafael Nadal said that he played a ‘bet­ter match over­all’ against world No 3 Mi­los Raonic.

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