Rafa Nadal got 2010 off to a perfect start as he beat Robin Soderling 7-6(2) 6-4 in the final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament this afternoon.
Rafa started the match on a high note and comfortably held serves to push the opening set into the deciding tie-break. With a dominant performance, he won the set by 7 points to 3.
The second set saw a service break in the sixth game when Rafa got the better of the Swede. However, Soderling bounced back immediately and broke the world No.2 to get back on serve. Finally, in the eleventh game, Nadal broke Soderling’s serve one more time to begin 2010 with a title.
After the victory, Rafa took a minute to recognize Soderling’s efforts. “I want to congratulate Robin for everything he achieved last season. He has an incredible potential and it makes sense to see him amongst the world’s top 10 players”.
“It is very important for me to begin the season winning. It’s been a real a difficult battle to win a tournament in the last six months and it’s never easy to compete against the best in the world all the time, but I will be giving it my all this year. For the moment though, it’s very important to start off the year with a title,” said the champ at the trophy ceremony.
Soderling, who’s enjoyed a wonderful few months, also took the opportunity to praise Rafa. “I’ve played three good matches at this tournament but Nadal played really good today and got a well deserved victory.”
Rafa now heads to nearby Doha for the official curtain-raiser on the men’s tour with the Australian Open less than three weeks away. He will participate as the second seed of this event, where he reached the quarterfinals last season.
Rafa will face Simon Bolelli in the first round of singles at the ExxonMobile Qatar Open. In doubles, he and friend Marc Lopez will face Fyrstenberg and Matkowski.