Rafael Nadal (L) and Andy Murray.
Fixture: (2) Rafael Nadal vs (6) Andy Murray.
Date: 17 December 2021.
Tournament: Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Round: Second round (Semifinal).
Venue: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Category: Exhibition Tournament.
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt.
Prize money: $250,000.
Timing: Not before 7 PM local time, 3 PM GMT, 8:30 PM IST.
Live telecast: USA – Tennis Channel | UK – Eurosport.
Rafael Nadal vs Andy Murray preview
Rafael Nadal will feel he could have done better this year.
Andy Murray will take on defending champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Friday. The winner will play either Andrey Rublev or Denis Shapovalov in the final on Saturday.
Neither Nadal nor Murray have had a 2021 they will be satisfied with. Nadal cut short his 2021 in August, citing injury, and has not played a match in the last four months.
At the Majors he played this year, he lost in the quarterfinals to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open. Nadal also suffered a four-set loss against eventual winner Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.
This prolonged leave of absence from the circuit thereafter has taken the Spaniard from World No. 2 at the start of the year to World No. 6 as the season ended. It is the lowest he has slipped since 2016.
Meanwhile, Murray’s 2021 has been topsy-turvy to say the least. Wins against promising youngsters such as Jannik Sinner, Hubert Hurkasz and Carlos Alcaraz have only flattered to deceive.The former World No. 1 could not make a deep run at any of the tournaments he competed at this year.
His ATP tour record this year stands at 15 wins to 14 losses, indicating his form, or lack thereof. Since returning from his retirement, Murray has had a hard time getting his consistency back.
Rafael Nadal vs Andy Murray head-to-head
Rafael Nadal leads the head-to-head against Andy Murray.
Over the years, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have faced each other 24 times, with Nadal leading the head-to-head record 17 to 7.
The last time the pair met each other was way back in 2016 at the Madrid Open. Murray scored a shock victory over Nadal on clay, defeating him 7-5, 6-4. Their last meeting on a hardcourt surface was the 2015 ATP Finals, which Nadal won 6-4, 6-1.
Rafael Nadal vs Andy Murray prediction
Andy Murray has looked more comfortable against Nadal on hardcourt than anywhere else.
While Rafael Nadal hasn’t been spotted in a competitive fixture for a while now, Andy Murray looked good in his straight-sets defeat of Dan Evans in the previous round.
Moreover, even though Nadal has a massive lead in their head-to-head, it is significantly closer when the surface of the court is taken into consideration. Nadal still leads, but his advantage is cut down to 7-5.
Taking into consideration that Nadal will be rusty in his first match back, the fixture should be closer than previous records and respective player rankings indicate.
Murray’s best chance of winning would be to extend the rallies as much as possible. Even though rallies are Nadal’s strength, he might not want to put too much pressure on his injured foot.
Despite that, Nadal will have the psychological edge over the Brit.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in three sets.