Tennis: Murray loses to Goffin as Nadal books UAE final spot

Scotland's Andy Murray returns the ball to Belgium's David Goffin.
Scotland's Andy Murray returns the ball to Belgium's David Goffin.PHOTO: AFP

ABU DHABI (AFP) - World number one Andy Murray shrugged off his surprise defeat to David Goffin in the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships on Friday (Dec 30).

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 was striking the ball well. It was a pretty high-quality match for the first match in the year after a break so it was good, just a bit unfortunate in the end,” Murray told The National newspaper.

“I find it great preparation for the new year. You’re practicing and playing matches against some of the best players in the world. So it’s a great way to start the year, get into a good rhythm. It sharpens you up and I’m happy to be back.”

Murray’s next stop is neighbouring Qatar for the opening week of the ATP season and two weeks out from the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of 2017.

Goffin, meanwhile, said he was pleased to have finally defeated Murray for the first time.

“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 number three, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in his semi-final as the 14-time major winner looks to end an injury-hit 2016 with a fourth UAE title on 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 number one 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 on 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.