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Returning Nadal misses out on final against Djokovic

By Opta
Rafael Nadal in action at the World Tennis Championship

Abu Dhabi, December 28: Rafael Nadal was beaten by Kevin Anderson on his return to action at the World Tennis Championship, where Novak Djokovic reached the final.

The Spaniard endured a tough 2018 season with injury, completing just one hard-court tournament and most recently missing the year-end ATP Finals with an abdominal complaint.

And playing on Friday (December 28) for the first time since his semi-final retirement at the US Open in September, Nadal suffered a 4-6 6-3 6-4 last-four loss to defending champion Anderson at the Abu Dhabi exhibition.

The 17-time grand slam champion nudged in front midway through the first set and, although Anderson swiftly responded, another break and a hold secured the opener.

But Anderson shook off Nadal in the second to level the match and then remained patient under pressure, the South African breaking to lead 5-4 before closing out victory.

Despite the defeat, Nadal reflected on-court: "I need to take it step by step after my surgery, but that's a positive start."

World number one Djokovic awaits Anderson in the final after racing to a 6-4 6-2 win over Karen Khachanov.

The Serbian made a fast start and wrapped up the first set despite subsequently slowing, then found his groove again in the second to break twice and finish with a flourish.

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Story first published: Friday, December 28, 2018, 22:20 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 28, 2018
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