Djokovic looks to end year in winning style

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will meet David Ferrer in the final of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.

With new coach Boris Becker watching on from the stands, Djokovic defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.

Earlier, Ferrer upset world number one Rafael Nadal with a 6-4 6-4 victory, the fast surface suiting the world number three more than his Spanish countryman.

Djokovic ended the 2013 season by winning 24 straight matches and is a hot favourite for a fourth straight Australian Open.

The world number two also confirmed he will not play any other warm-up events for the first grand slam of the year, which begins in Melbourne on January 13.

Djokovic said: “I’m not going to play in the opening weeks of the season because I feel like I didn’t have enough time to get myself in the right shape for competition mode. It’s why I’ve selected to play only in these few matches here and then move on to Melbourne.”

The Australian Open will be Djokovic’s first grand slam since adding Becker to his coaching staff. The 26-year-old feels the six-time major winner will help both technically on court as well as mentally in his preparation for big events.

“He had a great serve and he can help me in different parts of my game on court as well, including the mental aspect,” said Djokovic.

”So the combination of Boris and (head coach) Marian (Vajda), who is still on board and still part of our team, will hopefully be the winning combination for me and (will mean) that I will manage to get better and improve my game.”

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray finished fifth in Abu Dhabi by beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4 for his first victory since back surgery.

Murray had opened his season on St Stephen’s Day with defeat to Tsonga in his first proper match since helping Great Britain beat Croatia to reach the Davis Cup World Group in September. He had a minor operation on a long-standing back problem later that month, bringing an early end to his season.

Murray looked pretty sharp against Wawrinka and moved well, and he declared himself pleased with the way his back has responded to playing matches again. Speaking on court, the Scot said: “I feel pretty good, a lot better than I did a few months ago. I just need to play more matches like this because the intensity’s a lot higher than you can get in practice. It was good to get two matches against top players. Everyone needs matches at this stage, especially me. It’s been a perfect start and hopefully I’ll get better.”

Murray now makes the short trip to Doha for next week’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

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