ABU DHABI – World No. 1 Andy Murray fell to a surprise defeat to David Goffin in the semifinals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships Friday.
Wimbledon and Olympic champion Murray, who had won all five of his previous meetings with the 11th-ranked Belgian, was beaten 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
“I served really well and that was key to staying in the match,” said 26-year-old Goffin who will face Rafael Nadal in Saturday’s final. “Andy returns so well, puts the pressure on you so that makes it tough to serve well all the match.
“I maintained my level with the serve, felt really good on the baseline and came to the net when I needed to.”
Nadal downed Canada’s Milos Raonic, the world No. 3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in his semifinal as the 14-time major winner looks to end an injury-hit 2016 with a fourth UAE title Saturday.
Nadal, 30, defeated Raonic for the seventh time in eight career meetings.
“It’s great to be back on court after a time without matches,” said Spanish great Nadal, a former world No. 1 who is now down at nine in the rankings.
“To beat two great players (Tomas Berdych on Thursday and Raonic on Friday) is great news for me.”
Nadal and Goffin will meet for the first time Saturday.
“David is very talented. It will be a tough match but I will do my best,” said Nadal.
In the match for fifth-place in the six-man field, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Czech Thomas Berdych 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 10-3.
Nadal’s 2016 campaign was ruined by a wrist injury that forced him out of Roland Garros after the second round and saw him miss Wimbledon.
He then lost to Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the fourth round of the US Open and slipped to number nine in the world rankings at year end.
But the Spaniard says he is fit again and insists he can still challenge for a Grand Slam title.
“My idea is to stay here for a few more years and I feel enough motivation to be here,” Nadal said after the match.
“I believe that I can compete for important things in the next three years.”
Nadal will be making his first appearance at the Brisbane International, a major lead-up tournament to the Australian Open, and one that boasts a high-class field.
“I’m ready to play in Brisbane – I hope to be 100 percent ready to play at a good level,” he said.
“I feel I’m healthy enough, and I’m very excited to be coming to Brisbane for the first time in my life. I’m working hard enough to be competitive. That’s my main thing, to be competitive.
“I need a little luck at the beginning and to play matches, because I haven’t played much for the last four months.” – Agencies