Andy Murray made a statement for the 2015 season by easily defeating Rafael Nadal to reach the final at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.
Although the grandly-titled Mubadala World Tennis Championship carries no ranking points, both men were fully committed and Murray showed he is in fine shape physically and mentally with a 6-2 6-0 victory.
The Scot struggled past Nadal’s countryman Feliciano Lopez in the first round on Thursday but looked sharp from the start as he showed off the impact of his winter training camp in Miami.
Nadal, by contrast, was clearly rusty in his first match since the appendectomy that brought an early end to his 2014 season two months ago.
It is the first time Murray has beaten one of his ‘big-four’ rivals since defeating Novak Djokovic in the final of Wimbledon a year and a half ago.
Murray finished his 2014 season by winning just a single game against Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London and looked both ill at ease with his game and short on confidence. He lost two members of his coaching team - long-time allies and friends Dani Vallverdu and Jez Green - ahead of the new season but two weeks working with coach Amelie Mauresmo in Florida appears to have ironed out many of the creases.
Murray said: “It was a very tough match. There were many long games. It shouldn’t have been that scoreline. I just managed to win the important points. Sometimes it goes that way.
“It was a good match. You never know how you’re going to feel until you get on the match court.
“Today was an improvement from yesterday and hopefully tomorrow will be better as well.”
I’m pleased all the hard work is paying off.”