Abu Dhabi : Rafael Nadal concluded his prolonged pre-season by successfully defending his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over David Goffin on Saturday.
Nadal, who ended his 2016 season in October to focus on fully rehabilitating a left wrist injury, looked sharp throughout the tournament in Abu Dhabi, beating Tomas Berdych in the quarter-final and Milos Raonic in the semis to reach his fifth final.
But the Spaniard, 30, was given his toughest test in the final by an opponent who has become a fan favourite this week. Goffin, 26, has been in fine form in the capital, dispatching Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray en route to his showdown with Nadal.
The only break of the first set came at the most crucial time when Goffin was serving at 4-5, but the second set proved a far more topsy-turvy battle. Breaks were twice exchanged, before Goffin created four chances to break for 6-5, only for the typically scrappy Nadal to hold.
After a Goffin hold, the set and ultimately the match was decided by a tie-break, with Nadal prevailing 7-5 to clinch his fourth Mubadala title.
Nadal will now head to Australia for the Brisbane International, whereas Goffin makes the short journey to Doha for the Qatar Open.