Murray on top of World after epic Nadal tussle Andy Murray beats Rafael Nadal 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 to win World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi Taimour Lay guardian.co.uk, Saturday 3 January 2009 16.22 Andy Murray was pushed all the way by Rafael Nadal in the final of the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters Andy Murray has continued his impressive pre-season form, beating world No1 Rafael Nadal in a spectacular final of the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Murray, in his first meeting with Nadal since beating him in the semi-finals of the US Open in September, started the match well, a cross-court backhand winner sealing a break in the third game of the first set. Nadal broke back at 3-4 when a sloppy Murray service game went to deuce and the Scot double-faulted at break point. But Murray immediately seized the advantage again in the very next game with a brilliant short-angled winner at 30-40 for the chance to serve for the set at 5-4. He duly rushed to 40-15, wasted his first set point with a wild forehand, but took the second after a long rally forced a groundstroke error from Nadal. The second set went with serve until the pair exhanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games. Two unforced errors and a double fault from Nadal gifted Murray two break points. Both went begging, but the Scot got a third opportunity when Nadal sent successive shots over the baseline to fall behind 3-2. The Spaniard suddenly raised his game, however, a series of deep groundstrokes forcing Murray to deuce in the next game, before completing the break with another hooked forehand winner. Nadal held his next service game to love. Murray responded to make it 4-4, an ace at 40-30 bringing them level. The set ultimately went down to the wire, Nadal taking a 6-5 advantage to force Murray to serve to stay in it. The sheer force of the world No1's rallying forced Murray into three baseline errors to give up two set points at 15-40. Murray then sent a tame forehand long to hand Nadal the set 7-5. The deciding set proved a Homeric tussle. Five of the first six games in the set went to deuce as both players traded blows during stupidly long rallies, yet despite all the to-and-fro pressure the first six games went with serve. The match was decided in the seventh game, Murray prevailing with a blizzard of down-the-line passing shots and outrageous lobs. After holding his serve to make it 5-3, Murray broke Nadal again, effectively securing the match at 0-30 by lobbing Nadal while crossing the court at full pace. "I played a very good match today but Andy played just a little bit better," said Nadal after the match. "He is doing very well and has a real chance of winning in Australia." "I've worked really hard in November and December in order to give it my best shot in Australia," added Murray, who after beating the world No1 today and No2 Roger Federer yesterday, will be considered one of the hot favourites for the Australian Open later this month.