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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

MWTC: Ahead of Rafael Nadal clash Kevin Anderson looks on bright side of long match against Hyeon Chung

Reigning Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner took two hours and 24 minutes to beat South Korean in quarter-finals

Kevin Anderson said it had served as a useful exercise in providing him with a victory in what was his first match in more than a month. Ali Haider / EPA
Kevin Anderson said it had served as a useful exercise in providing him with a victory in what was his first match in more than a month. Ali Haider / EPA

Kevin Anderson acknowledged that being forced to play a lengthy match to see off the challenge of Hyeon Chung at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) could actually turn out to be a good thing for his preparations for the 2019 season.

The defending champion at the event in Abu Dhabi had to come from a set down to defeat Chung 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the opening match of the tournament to set up a semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Friday.

The match lasted for two hours and 24 minutes, and was full of long rallies with both men returning well throughout the match.

Anderson, 32, said it had served as a useful exercise in providing him with a victory in what was his first match in more than a month after his 2018 season had ended at the ATP Tour Finals in London.

"To get that amount of time out there was good," the South African said. "With the Australian Open coming up, where it is three out of five sets, to be able to get that time on court, in a challenging match situation is great."

While in Abu Dhabi ...

Chung, making his first appearance at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City, had started the better of the two, engineering three break points in a lengthy first game of the match, which were all saved.

He looked in danger of being pushed aside when the No 6 broke him to love in the sixth game and Anderson subsequently charged to a 5-2 lead.

But the South Korean fought back, and after failing to take three more break points in the ninth game, he finally got the break back at the fourth try as Anderson went long with a forehand from the back of the court to get the match back on serve.

Chung controlled the tie-break and won it on his first set point when Anderson netted a service return. But Anderson hit back in the second set, breaking Chung twice in a row to take charge and he would go on to take the set 6-2.

It was a similar story in the final set as Anderson took advantage of Chung's misfiring serve to break twice and move 4-0 ahead.

Victory was sealed shortly afterwards as Chung put a forehand wide on match point to allow a relieved Anderson the chance to punch the air in celebration as he broke for a sixth time in the match.

South Korea's Hyeon Chung proved a worthy challenger for reigning champion Kevin Anderson in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
South Korea's Hyeon Chung proved a worthy challenger for reigning champion Kevin Anderson in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

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More on MWTC:

Karen Khachanov to face Novak Djokovic in semis after his crushing win over Dominic Thiem

Kevin Anderson: I want to face Nadal and Djokovic at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

MWTC: Complete player guide as Djokovic, Nadal and Serena Williams head to Abu Dhabi

Thiem aiming to continue great form in 2018 at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The Serena Williams interview: Taking on older sister Venus is 'the ultimate rivalry'

Rafael Nadal ready to get 'best preparation' for 2019 season at Mubadala event

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Anderson credited breaking Chung in the opening game of the second set for being the catalyst for his success.

"Tennis can be a funny game," he added. "Small points can make all the difference and getting that break at the start of the second set changed things and I was able to go on from there."

Nadal, the most successful player in the MWTC's history with four titles to his name, now awaits Anderson, with the match due to start at 5pm.

It is a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, which was Anderson's first appearance in a grand slam final, and he lost to Nadal in straight sets.

That was the most recent of their five meetings on the ATP Tour, with Nadal having won all of them.

Updated: December 27, 2018 08:44 PM

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