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In a clash of two all-time greats, Murray managed to get the best of Nadal in Abu Dhabi. The two played on December 17th in this exhibition event. And Murray managed to beat Nadal in straight sets. The two hadn’t played each other since the Madrid Open in 2016 – a match that Andy Murray also won. The reason for such a gap in matches between the two, of course, is largely because of Murray’s injury woes.
With that said, since Murray has come back and managed to beat Nadal, an intriguing question arises. Does this win mean that Murray is back? Or does it simply mean that Nadal is still not 100% from his 2021 injury? I’ve shared my two cents below.
Key takeaways from the game in Abu Dhabi
I won’t sit here and pretend that the win isn’t significant in any way. It most certainly is, but the scale of significance is somewhat up for debate. Here are my thoughts:
Murray can take down the big guys
I must admit, this has been something I’ve wondered about while watching the Murray comeback. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely remarkable that Murray is back competing, let alone winning high-level matches. But during his comeback throughout the 2021 season, it’s been clear that he has struggled with top players. He has come close to beating them, but he has usually struggled to get across the finish line.
Now that he has taken down a guy like Rafa, however, I believe it shows he can once again claim big scalps on tour.
Nadal struggling with fitness
As many tennis fans know, Nadal missed the entire second half of 2021 through injury. This has been a huge concern for Nadal fans since the Grand Slam race is now perfectly poised at 20 for each of the big three. And on that note, 2022 is going to be a huge year for the history books! Nadal needs to be at 100% if he has any chance of winning a slam or two. This is especially true with Djokovic being in the form that he is in, and with guys such as Zverev and Medvedev coming through.
Since he has lost to Murray in this event, I don’t believe that he is close to full fitness right now. And we aren’t that far from the 2022 Aussie Open!
This match-up is as entertaining as ever
If you watched the game, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It might look like a straight-set victory on paper, but it was anything but. These guys produced some absolutely tremendous rallies, and it really did remind me of the old days. With gruelling points, awesome touch shots, and spectacular court craft, this was the match of the tournament for me. And if both guys can continue to get fully fit for 2022, I would love to see them play each other once again.
Hopefully, the clash will occur at a tournament with more significance than an exhibition event too.