Tennis: Rafa says he's not 'back' despite Abu Dhabi title

World No. 9 Rafael Nadal whipping a forehand against Belgium's David Goffin during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final.
World No. 9 Rafael Nadal whipping a forehand against Belgium's David Goffin during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final.PHOTO: REUTERS

ABU DHABI • Rafael Nadal said that he is "very happy" to return to the court and is looking forward to the new season as he ended an injury-plagued 2016 on a high by lifting the Mubadala World Tennis Championship title for a fourth time on Saturday.

The 30-year-old defeated 11th-ranked Belgian David Goffin 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) after world No. 1 Andy Murray earlier ousted Canada's Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to take third place.

"I'm very happy to return to competition again. These three days have been good for me. These three days, playing at this level, are going to stand me in good stead for the rest of the season," said Nadal.

His campaign last year had been ruined by a wrist injury that forced him out of Roland Garros after the second round and saw him miss Wimbledon.

But he looked in form throughout the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, beating Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarter-final and Raonic in the semi-finals.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion will now head to Australia for the Brisbane International to get ready for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The Spaniard, however, warned that it could take some time before he is back to top form.

"We cannot start analysing my game from how I played here, or how I play in Brisbane," he said.

"Let's wait and see how things go over a period of time. Let's wait until after Indian Wells and Miami.

"I would have already had the chance to play in Brisbane, Melbourne, Rotterdam and Acapulco by then, which means I would have played enough tournaments to say, 'Okay, I am there.'

"When you are coming back from injury and you have not competed in a while, you cannot analyse how you feel after two or three events. Let's wait a couple of months."

Wimbledon and Olympic champion Murray, who was knighted in the New Year Honours list, bounced back from his loss to Goffin in Friday's semi-final, his first defeat by the Belgian in six meetings.

"It was good to finish the year with a win (against Raonic). It was a good match to work on returns as Milos has a strong serve," he said .

When asked about his knighthood, the 29-year-old Scot said: "I still feel like Andy Murray - that feels more normal - but I am happy with the knighthood and it is a nice way to start the new year."

His next stop is neighbouring Qatar for the opening week of the ATP season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2017, with the headline 'Rafa says he's not 'back' despite Abu Dhabi title'. Print Edition | Subscribe