ANDY Murray was defeated in straight sets by Janko Tipsarevic yesterday in this week’s exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Murray, the world No 3, looked off his game as he fell to a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Serbian Tipsarevic on the opening day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Tipsarevic progressed to the semi-finals, where he will face Spain’s world No 11, Nicolas Almagro, who came in as a late replacement following the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal due to a stomach virus.
The match started off fairly evenly and continued on serve until Murray was broken in the fourth game by Tipsarevic, who went on to take the first set.
Murray opened the second with an ace but Tipsarevic, who is ranked ninth in the current ATP standings, hit back to pile on the pressure by claiming an immediate break of serve.
The set progressed with the reigning US Open champion trailing the 28-year-old at 5-3 after some loose play.
Serving to stay in the match, the Scot handed the advantage to his opponent with a double-fault, before a cross-court winner and a shot down the line helped him on the way to making it 5-4 in the second set.
Tipsarevic was therefore given the chance to serve for victory and earned two matchpoints as Murray was unable to clear a smash to the baseline.
The Serbian duly served out the game and booked his place in the semi-finals and the match against Almagro.
After the match, Tipsarevic said: “I am happy with my game. I know it’s an exhibition match but it’s not every day you get to play a grand slam champion and an Olympic gold medal winner. I’m just happy I managed to play good tennis tonight.
“Everyone is pumped up and it’s the beginning of the season so, if I can get a few more victories heading into the Australian Open, that would be brilliant.”
Murray said: “I’m looking forward to training very hard and playing some of my best tennis next year. It’s nice to play in events like this and it’s a great atmosphere to play in.”
David Ferrer also booked his place in the semi-finals with a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych. The world No 5 carried over his best form from last season to ease to a 6-2, 6-4 win and earn a last-four meeting with Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard dominated the opening set and raced to a 5-0 lead before the Czech won his first game, eventually breaking Ferrer’s serve. But it was not enough to stop the 30-year-old from claiming the set.
Berdych increased his intensity in the second set and matched his opponent game for game until Ferrer made the decisive break to ease ahead at 5-4.
It left Ferrer to serve for the match, which he duly did to line up tomorrow’s encounter with world No 1 Djokovic.
Djokovic is full of confidence for the season ahead and fired with an ambition to win every Grand Slam tournament.
He said: “Right now I can approach a new season with a lot of confidence because I won the last big tournament of the year in London [ATP World Tour Finals].
“So ambitions are always high. I want to win every Grand Slam that I play, want to win every big tournament that I play.”
The Serb needs only the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, but admits: “It’s going to be very tough. I am definitely aware of the fact that the sport has become so competitive. Everybody is looking at all players outside the court, what they do, what they eat, how they treat their teams. The teams around the players are growing. Everyone is becoming more professional, more committed and it’s a modern development and that’s what makes it even more challenging to be at the top for me or any other player.
“With this awareness I am going into the new season, but also with a lot of confidence because I have had an incredible few years.”
“It’s going to be another exciting year for men’s tennis. Right now it’s probably one of the most popular sports in the world because of the great rivalries, like [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal – still the biggest rivalry, there is no doubt. Then the other rivalries that have developed over the years, mine with Roger, Rafa and now with Andy [Murray].”