The 13th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship has met its new champion, world number five Andrey Rublev, who defeated two-time winner Andy Murray in a thrilling final on Saturday.
In his on-court interview, the Russian said: “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.”
Speaking about his rival on court, he outlined: “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.”
Rublev dominated most of the first set, producing a decisive break of serve on his adversary in the fifth game, moving on to close out 6-4.
The second set saw the 24-year-old breaking early, soon opening a 2-0 lead over his opponent, but then, the struggles with his service began, hitting three double faults.
Murray did not let slip his chances to break back before taking a 5-4 lead while showcasing an absolute tennis masterclass.
Nevertheless, with an aggressive approach, the Moscow native fought back to level up the set 5-5; both players raised their level, taking the battle into a tie-break, which the Russian won 7-2, capturing his first title at the MWTC.
After the match, the 34-year-old commented: “I always enjoy coming back, I played three really good matches, but Andrey played really well. He has a very good game, but I’ll take the positives; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my week. Thanks for having me back.”
“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.”
En route to the final, the 8-time ATP titlist faced Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Friday, battling to close out 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, securing his place in Saturday’s final.
“It was super tough. It was only my third day here, and Shapovalov had already played one match on Thursday. But I feel like I played really well. It was a good match, and I hope the fans enjoyed it,” Rublev said.
The off-season exhibition event saw the British clash leaning towards Murray’s side as he displayed high-quality tennis to topple his compatriot 6-3, 6-2 in their first meeting.
On Friday, the two-time Olympic gold singles medalist played Rafael Nadal for the first time in over five years, a memorable semifinal clash that the Scot won 6-3, 7-5, displaying a solid performance.
“There were definitely some things I did really well out there. It was very special for me to be back out on the court playing against Rafa and playing in front of a big crowd,” the three-time Grand Slam champion stated.
The three-day event staged at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City, concluded Saturday night with fans and spectators worldwide enjoying an entertaining showdown.
On a further note, the competition celebrated its 13th edition with a special trophy named “Pearling Season”, paying tribute to the UAE’s pearl-diving heritage.