World No 14 beats Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 in the final in Abu Dhabi
Kevin Anderson happy to join list of 'great winners' Murray, Nadal and Djokovic as he adds his name to Mubadala World Tennis Championship trophy
Kevin Anderson had said before coming to Abu Dhabi for the 2017 Mubadala World Tennis Championship that he felt he had unfinished business with the tournament.
He had lost his two matches in straight sets in January 2016 as he struggled physically with niggling injuries.
But he put that disappointment firmly behind him on his second visit to the capital as he was crowned champion on Saturday after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 in the final.
Anderson, who had reached the US Open final in September, became only the fourth player after Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to win the title, and the South African was pleased to join their company.
“It is nice to get a win,” the South African said. “This tournament has been going on for 10 years and there has been a lot of great winners in the past, so it is nice to get that trophy.”
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It had looked initially as if the world No 14 would dominate the match as he made a flying start to proceedings.
He broke Bautista Agut in the opening game as the Spaniard struck a forehand into the net.
He had a further chance in the fifth game to break again but Bautista Agut held on, but he was powerless to prevent Anderson taking the set 6-4.
There appeared to be more aggression to Bautista Agut’s tennis at the start of the second set and that was rewarded as he broke to go 2-0 up with a searing cross-court shot.
But Anderson broke straight back in the next game as Bautista Agut went long with a forehand.
Bautista Agut was beginning to get a much better reading on Anderson’s serve, but the 31-year-old South African often used his sweeping forehand to get himself out of trouble from the back of the court.
There were no further breaks and the set went to a tie-break which was dominated by Anderson, who won all seven points, clinching the match when Bautista put a forehand into the net.
Anderson, who had beaten Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals and then Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals, won the tournament without dropping a set.
“It has been three very good matches for me and in terms of my preparations [for the 2018 season] I could not have asked for more out of these matches,” he said.
“They were close matches and I had to compete, and I was able to implement a lot of the things I was working on and saw a few areas that we are still looking at and need to push through.
“But overall I am very pleased with these last few days.”
Bautista Agut had only been confirmed for the line-up seven days ago after the withdrawal of world No 1 Nadal.
The world No 20 was pleased with how he performed over the weekend, and said: “I think I played good tennis these three days. It is good to play some real matches going into the season and have a good rhythm.
“Today was a great match. I played very good from the baseline and I made a lot of returns but I think Kevin played really well.
“I think I returned very well. But he played really well from the baseline himself so that is why I could not make a lot of breaks.
“I was really close to winning that second set. It was a close match and I am happy overall with how I did.”