Murray was denied a third title at the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, having won in 2009 and 2015, having been defeated by Andrey Rublev 6-4 7-6 (2); Murray adds his concern about Covid cases in the UK as he plans to spend a week there before a travel test for the Australian Open

Last update: 12/18/21 10:02 PM

Andy Murray finished second after Andrei Rublev's 6-4, 7-6(2) win at Abu Dhabi

Andy Murray finished second after Andrei Rublev’s 6-4, 7-6(2) win at Abu Dhabi

Andy Murray believes he has more clarity in how he handles his matches next year after taking the positives from reaching the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final.

And Murray was denied a third title in the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, having won in 2009 and 2015, having been overtaken by Andrei Rublev, who won 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old Scot has defeated fellow Briton Dan Evans and 20-times Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal in the past few days, so he wasn’t too bothered to go down to the world number five player.

“It’s been a good week for me,” said Murray, who has had two major hip surgeries. “It was good to see where my body plays three days in a row with that kind of strength and I learned a lot during the three games.

“Certainly some things got better as the week went on and there were a few things (against Rublev) that I might have gotten away with in other matches. Certainly some things for me to work on but they were good overall.”

Murray, who is on trial with German coach Jan de Witt after parting with long-time advisor Jimmy Delgado last week, started well against Rublev but the break in the fifth game was crucial in the first set.

Murray lost his serve early in the second set, but gained an unexpected foothold again in the competition when Rublev’s double fouled three times in the eighth game, and after taking a 4-2 lead, the Russian trailed 5-4.

But Rublev quickly rediscovered his composure, holding the serve twice to avoid losing the set and making sure there was no one-sided tiebreak as the former world number one challenge stumbled.

But Murray said: “I feel much clearer in my mind now about the way I want to play and the way I’m going to do my matches next year. Making the decision comes from having a clear mind about how you want to play.

“At the moment, I’m pretty sure of it. I think it will help me in the important moments, the thing that I have been strong in was making good decisions in important moments and playing well on the big points and raising my level. I am clear about the way I want to play, and I will be able to do it again.”

Murray will now return to the UK for a week before his scheduled December 27 departure for Australia for his first major tournament in 2022, an event he missed this year after testing positive for Covid-19.

Case numbers have surged again in recent weeks, with a major incident announced in London amid fears the Omicron variant is spreading across the capital, and Murray admitting he will have to take precautions.

“This is a concern,” he added. “With the number of cases repatriated now, I want to try to stay safe.

“When I get home, I will do all my physical training at home in my own home. I will do all my treatment and training at home in the gym where I arrived so I can take the test to go to Australia on Christmas Day.

“I basically have six or seven days to try and stay safe through the Christmas period.”

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