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Andy Murray spoils Rafael Nadal’s return in Mubadala ‘battle of the old guys’

It was a win for the British former world No 1 against the Spanish former world No 1

Tennis – Mubadala World Tennis Championship – International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 17, 2021 Britain’s Andy Murray shakes hands with Spain’s Rafael Nadal after winning their semi final match || 215860_0089

Andy Murray came out on top against Rafael Nadal in the semi-final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi – winning 6-3, 7-5, and taking the honours in what he had earlier referred to as a match between “a couple of old guys”.

It was the Spaniard’s return to competitive action after a foot injury that terminated his 2021 season early back in August – albeit in an exhibition event, but one he has won five times previously.

After losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-final of Roland-Garros in June, Nadal did not play again until the US swing, competing in the Citi Open then withdrawing from the Rogers Cup and announcing the curtailment of his season.

Both Murray and Nadal have suffered greatly with injury in recent years – but there were certainly glimmers of their old form in an encounter that lasted more than two hours.

“It’s great to be back on the court, being able to play at this level again after a very long time,” said Murray afterwards, reflecting on a match against one of his biggest rivals over the course of his career, from juniors to ATP tour.

“Me and Rafa have played so many tough matches over the years ,but not for five or six years…it’s great to have the opportunity to be on court with him again.

“Certainly when I was younger, I wasn’t appreciating it as much as I do now. I’m so happy Rafa is back, and I look forward to the next few years.”

Nadal, for his part, had similar feelings, saying: “It’s been a while since we played each other. I’m super happy to see Andy playing at this great level after all the things he went through. It was not a bad match for me, I’ve been a long time without being on the court…so it’s positive feelings.”

Murray will now play Andrey Rublev – ten years his junior – in the final.

“Another chance to play against another top player. Rublev hits a huge ball from the back of the court – certainly that’ll test my movement out!”

And Nadal will face Denis Shapovalov of Canada – 13 years his junior – in the third-place play-off before heading to Australia for the build-up to 2022’s first Grand Slam. He reached the quarter-finals of the 2021 edition.

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