Nadal beats Federer in Abu Dhabi exhibition

December 31, 2011 - 10:22 AM
Mideast Emirates Abu Dhabi Tennis Championship

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Roger Federer from Switzerland during the final day of the Abu Dhabi Mubadala Tennis Championship, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rafael Nadal, playing with an ailing left shoulder, beat Roger Federer 6-1, 7-5 Saturday for third place at the World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament.

The second-ranked Nadal has been nursing a sore shoulder since the end of last season. He was routed by David Ferrer in the semifinals Friday, but looked back to his old self against Federer.

He took a 3-0 lead in the first set and was never seriously threatened by his Swiss rival, who was badly beaten by Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

Djokovic faces Ferrer in the final later Saturday. The $250,000 winner-takes-all six-man tournament is a warmup for the ATP season.

The third-ranked Federer struggled with unforced errors and an inconsistent serve. His game improved in the second set, but Nadal ended the match with a blistering forehand into the corner.

"It was a positive match," said Nadal, who plans to take a break after the Australian Open to rest his shoulder. "I played better than yesterday and that was the most important."

Federer downplayed the two losses this week, insisting he was feeling good and the time on court will serve him well ahead of the season's first tournament in Qatar next week.

"It's about getting ready and feeling fine out there and enjoying a great atmosphere here and having the chance to play world class players," Federer said. "Trying a few things, see where you are at and see where the other guys are at."

"Obviously, I could tell Novak and Rafa are playing really well," he added. "That is not a surprise to me. I expected them to be in good shape for next year and they proved that to me this weekend."