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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to triumph: Mubadala World Tennis Championship Day 2 guide and predictions

A preview of Friday's action at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, with the action beginning at 3pm

Having faced the media on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, Rafa Nadal starts his Mubadala World Tennis Championship challenge on Friday. EPA
Having faced the media on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, Rafa Nadal starts his Mubadala World Tennis Championship challenge on Friday. EPA

It is semi-final day in the men's competition at Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

After Serena and Venus Williams shone on the first day of the competition on Thursday with their exhibition match it is Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the top two players in the world in the men's game, who take centre stage on Friday.

Here is a rundown on the action and what to watch for.

Fifth place play-off

Hyeon Chung v Dominic Thiem, 3pm

A chance for the losers of Thursday's quarter-finals to get a victory under their belt.

Thiem fought well against Karen Khachinov and the Austrian was largely undone by a poor first set tie-break.

Chung had his moments against Kevin Anderson and his returning was good, but his serve lacked the potency to capitalise on some good positions he got himself into and it was a missed opportunity.

A hard one to call, but largely based on the fact he did trouble Khachinov at times, this will be Thiem's day.

Prediction Thiem wins in straight sets

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Read more

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

Karen Khachanov set for 'good fight' against Novak Djokovic

Venus Williams calls for more women's matches at MWTC after edging sister Serena in her first Abu Dhabi appearance

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Men's semi-finals

Rafael Nadal v Kevin Anderson, 5pm

The clash of the most successful in the history of the MWTC up against the defending champion.

It should be an interesting clash and it really depends on what state of fitness Nadal is in.

He was bullish on his recovery when he spoke to reporters on Thursday but acknowledged he was "not 100 per cent" yet.

The Spaniard was terrific in 2018 when he was healthy and the tennis world will be keeping an eye on how he does in MWTC to see what kind of level he is at.

Anderson won in three sets against Chung in their quarter-final on Thursday, but it was a grind with his serve not fully firing.

The positive was that the South African showed his tenacity by saving a lot of break points at key moments and it was a good work out for him, as he admitted.

But Nadal will cause him more problems then Chung and this should be a winning return to MWTC for the world No 2 as he bids for a fifth title in Abu Dhabi.

Prediction Rafael Nadal in straight sets

Novak Djokovic v Karen Khachanov, 7pm

This could be an absolute cracker.

You have Djokovic, the world No 1, coming to the end of a year in which he has regained his place at the top of the men's game, having been down at No 22 in mid-June.

Then you have the young pretender in Khachanov, the world No 11, who has already proven he can beat Djokovic after he defeated him in the Paris Masters final last month.

Khachanov was impressive, after a slow start, in beating Thiem on Thursday and he believes the conditions at Zayed Sports City suit him.

But, Djokovic has never lost a match at MWTC when he has competed on court. The three-time champion's lone defeat in his past four visits to the MWTC was the 2015 final against Andy Murray when he withdrew injured on the morning of the match.

Djokovic has beaten Khachanov in 2018, in straight sets in the fourth round at Wimbledon, and he will just edge this too, but it will be tight.

Prediction Djokovic comes through in three close sets

Updated: December 28, 2018 09:58 AM

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