Andy Murray may have had a generally under-par 2014 in Tennis terms by his own recent high standards, but 2015 has started in a much richer vein. After beating Feliciano Lopez in the first round and then Rafa Nadal convincingly in straight sets in the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship event, he was then awarded a walkover in the final after his old rival Novak Djokovic was forced to withdraw with illness. Djokovic had qualified for the final by overcoming Stan Wawrinka in the other semi-final and had looked in tremendous form in doing so.

It had looked to be an interesting match-up between the two friends and rivals, who contested the 2013 Wimbledon final that Murray won, but Djokovic said that he was fighting a fever and decided to withdraw as a result. Before the final, Murray was the one who was believed to be struggling with a left shoulder injury after his win against Nadal, but had declared himself fit to play.

The Abu Dhabi-based competition is basically a warm-up exhibition event for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Australian Open, which begins later this month. By winning the event it has no doubt given Murray a much needed boost and a good sign of the shape he is currently in going into that much more onerous competition, after a disappointing performance at the end of year World Tour Finals’ event, where he was overwhelmed by the brilliance of Roger Federer.

The ‘consolation round’ match in Abu Dhabi saw Nadal get some much needed additional court time after winning only two games against Murray, by showing a marked improvement in form to defeat Wawrinka in two sets.

The tour moves on to Doha next week, where both Djokovic and Nadal are scheduled to be in action. Murray continues his preparations for the Australian Open by competing in the Hopman Cup in Perth next week. That event is a mixed team competition, where Murray will join Heather Watson to represent Great Britain, with their opening rubber scheduled to be against France on Monday.

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