South African Kevin Anderson defeated Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets 7-6, 6-4 to enter the final of the Mubadala Tennis Championship at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex on Saturday.
Anderson will meet Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who got a walkover to the final following the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic just hours before the semis yesterday. Bautista Agut had won his match on day one of the championship, brushing aside 20-year-old Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2.
In the lone semi-final played on Friday, the hard-serving Anderson was broken early with some aggressive play from the backline by Thiem. A double fault from Anderson and then a fine cross court return from Thiem allowed two break points for the latter. Although Anderson saved one, Thiem held on to the second with another brilliant cross court return to take a 2-1 lead.
However, Anderson bounced back from that setback almost instantaneously to break Thiem in the next game at 15-40. The contest was forced into a tiebreak after going on serve but not before seeing Anderson saving two break points in game nine.
The tiebreak was an absolute masterclass from the duo but once Anderson held his serve to be on set point at 7-6, Thiem buckled under pressure. The Austrian served a double fault and let the set slip out of his hands.
That setback was enough to send Thiem off track straight away in the second set. He was broken in the first game and once he missed out on the opportunity to break back in the very next game, Anderson grew in confidence and sealed the set at 6-4.
“Obviously, a very close match today as Dominic is a great player. The match came down to a point here and a point there. Fortunately, I was on the winning end of those,” said Anderson adding that he is very much looking forward to the final.
“Yes, the support was great from the crowd and I hope to come out and do well tomorrow.”
Thiem, despite ending up on the losing side, felt that the experience was great and there was no reason to be disappointed about his effort.
“Well, it was not a bad match at all. It was close and Kevin played really well for the beginning of the season. So congrats to him but still it was a very good match under great conditions and I’m not really disappointed,” said Thiem adding that, playing in his first Mubadala Championship was a very good experience on the whole.
“The court is great and you can say, it is the best preparation I had before the Australian Open and ahead of the new season.”
In the fifth-place match, Russian Rublev defeated Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 in just a little over an hour. Busta, who finished in the top 10 last season, has now lost 10 of his last 11 matches and is clearly showing poor form ahead of the new season.
By By N. D. Prashant
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