Capitala World Tennis Championship: Rafael Nadal avenged two tough defeats at hands of Robin Soderling when he straight setted the Swede in the final of the Abu Dhabi Exo. Soderling fought back from a 2-4 deficit in the first set but eventually fell 7-6(3) 7-5.
What a win for the Spaniard. Exo or not, this was huge. Nadal has just reimposed himself and now the whole tennis world should know that he’s not going to continue his fizzling play that got him a four match losing streak at the end of last year. Soderling shouldn’t be too upset because he still showed his fighting spirit and has plenty of positives to take away from the last few days.
Had Soderling beaten Nadal, I would’ve pointed out how interesting it would be that he repeated Andy Murray’s feat from last year but people still wouldn’t consider Soderling the favorite at the Australian the way they did Murray.
But since Nadal won people might in fact pin him as the favorite to defend his Australian title. While I can’t agree that he is the top favorite, this result is definitely a positive one heading into the first slam of the year. Beating Soderling on hard courts isn’t easy whether it’s an exo or not and it might also put a question mark in the heads of all those players who essentially used Soderling’s methods to beat Nadal for the rest of 2009.
Nadal said, “If you want to have any chance against him, you have to play long, be close to the baseline and try to play all the time with good rhythm. I’m very happy, I played a very good match.”
Looks like Uncle Toni and Rafa have been quite busy in the off season and Nadal is prepared to face all those ball bashers that blew him off the court.
“I think Robin right now is one of the most difficult players on the tour to play against. His serve is incredible, he has a very good forehand, a very good backhand so it is difficult to stop him.” – And yet Nadal straight setted him.
In the consolation match, Roger Federer beat David Ferrer 6-1 7-5. Big shocker there.
“For me, it’s important to come over here and have a perfect preparation, getting back in to the swing of things,” said Federer.
“Perfect” is an odd description of his weekend.
Elsewhere: Australia lost its opener to Romania in the Hopman Cup while in Thailand Maria Sharapova thumped should-be-soon-to-retire Venus Williams. And best of all, Doha starts tomorrow!
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