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

It had looked to be an interesting match-up between thetwo 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 aresult. Before the final, Murray was the one who was believed to be strugglingwith a left shoulder injury after his win against Nadal, but had declaredhimself fit to play.

The Abu Dhabi-based competition is basically a warm-upexhibition event for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the AustralianOpen, which begins later this month. By winning the event it has no doubt givenMurray a much needed boost and a good sign of the shape he is currently ingoing into that much more onerous competition, after a disappointing performanceat the end of year World Tour Finals’ event, where he was overwhelmed by thebrilliance of Roger Federer.

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

The tour moves on to Doha next week, where both Djokovicand Nadal are scheduled to be in action. Murray continues his preparations forthe Australian Open by competing in the Hopman Cup in Perth next week. That eventis a mixed team competition, where Murray will join Heather Watson to representGreat Britain, with their opening rubber scheduled to be against France onMonday.