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By Erik Gudris / Friday, December 27, 2013

 

Despite having mixed results in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship semifinals, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are staying on track in their preparations for the upcoming Australian Open.

Photo Credit: AP

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic came away with mixed results during their opening matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. But with the battle for No. 1 fixed for the near future between the world's top two players, both men came away looking at the positives as they each prepare for the upcoming Australian Open.

Top seed Nadal took on fellow Spanish David Cup teammate David Ferrer in the first semifinal. The match was also the first for Nadal during the event and it showed, as Nadal struggled in the early games. Ferrer broke Nadal in the ninth game of the opening set.

From there, Ferrer secured the set 6-4.

With Ferrer having played a match earlier in the week, that seemed to give the current world No. 3 the edge as Nadal continued to not look as sharp as his opponent. Ferrer eventually went on to close out the 6-4, 6-4 win that sends him into Saturday's finals.

"I think, for a first match to play against a guy who has practiced for a month and who played a match yesterday, on a very fast court, I was happy with how I played," Nadal said later to SkySports.com.

Nadal will next appear at the upcoming ATP event in Doha.

Djokovic Takes Out Tsonga in Semis

Keeping things as is will be the plan for Novak Djokovic despite his recent surprise move to hire Boris Becker as his new coach. The current world No. 2, who cited losing the top ranking to Nadal as the main reason for hiring Becker, will not play any additional events prior to the Australian Open.

Djokovic took to the court in his first match of the new season as he faced France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second semifinal. Despite both men sharing smiles in the highly competitive yet friendly match, it was all business as Tsonga pulled level with Djokovic for 4-all in the first set.

Eventually a tiebreak was needed to decide the opener. Djokovic was unable to serve out the tiebreak while leading 6-4. But a well-timed passing shot that forced a Tsonga volley error soon gave Djokovic the set 7-6(5).

The second set proved more routine for Djokovic, who went on to book his spot in the finals with a 7-6(5) 6-3 win.

Inevitably, discussion afterwards returned back to Djokovic and his hiring of Becker. Speaking to Sport360.com, Djokovic said his years of training as a teen in Germany also played a factor in the decision.

“I understand how the German mentality works and I know it’s a lot of hard work and commitment but also he (Becker) has this different side of him, he’s very open-minded, he’s a storyteller and I’m sure it’s going to be a very comfortable relationship for both of us.”

In earlier results, Andy Murray claimed his first win since a four-month layoff after he beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4.

 

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