Serbia’s Novak Djokovic won his third consecutive title at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, defeating Spain’s David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2 in Saturday’s final of that hard-court exhibition event.
Djokovic, who is riding a wave of momentum that began at the end of last season, took the contest in just over two hours against an opponent unable to take advantage of numerous chances.
Ferrer ran the hard yards needed to stay even with the world No. 2 in the early going, but the first set slipped away when he dropped his serve in the 12th game.
Djokovic, winner of six Grand Slam singles titles, was more fluid and effective in the second set, however, playing at a level that the scrappy Ferrer was unable to match.
The Serbian finished last season in impeccable form, capturing two ATP World Tour Masters Series 1000 events in Shanghai and Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour finals in London and bringing a 24-match winning streak into the 2014 campaign.
He was also undefeated in the final two rounds of the Davis Cup at the end of last season, although it was not enough to prevent Serbia from losing the final to the Czech Republic.
In a bid to win more Grand Slam titles and snag the No. 1 ranking back from Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Djokovic earlier this month hired German tennis icon Boris Becker as his new head coach.
In the third- and fourth-place match in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital, Nadal bounced back from a straight-set loss to Ferrer Friday to defeat French world No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in one hour and 38 minutes.
Nadal relied on his consistency to give him an edge against Tsonga, who dominated with his serve in the first set.
The Frenchman only dropped two points on serve through the first 12 games of the match but in the tiebreaker he committed his first double fault to give Nadal a set point, which the Spaniard did not squander.
In the second set, Tsonga’s first serve was less effective and he was more vulnerable to Nadal’s typically relentless baseline play.
“The start of the season is never easy and even less so on such a fast court, which is less suited to my style of play. I lost a match and won another one and I’m satisfied with the tournament I played in Abu Dhabi,” Nadal said.
Several of the world’s top players competed in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship as part of their preparations for next month’s Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the 2014 season.