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Djokovic to focus on Melbourne after Abu Dhabi final

Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, will meet David Ferrer in the final of the Mubadala World Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi today.

Novak Djokovic will play no further warm-up events ahead of his Australian Open title defence
Novak Djokovic will play no further warm-up events ahead of his Australian Open title defence

With his new coach Boris Becker watching from the stands, Djokovic defeated the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. Earlier, Ferrer had upset the world No.1 Rafael Nadal with a 6-4, 6-4 victory, the fast surface suiting the world No.3 more than his Spanish countryman.

Djokovic ended the 2013 season by winning 24 consecutive matches and his performance yesterday did nothing to diminish his status as favourite for a fourth straight Australian Open. The world No.2 also confirmed he will not play any other warm-up events for the first grand slam of the year, which begins on January 13.

Djokovic said: "I'm not going to play in the opening weeks of the season because I feel 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 tournament since he added 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."

Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion, secured fifth place in the six-man event by beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 for his first victory since he had back surgery.

Murray had opened his season on Boxing Day with defeat by Tsonga in his first proper match since he helped Great Britain defeat 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, where he will begin his ATP World Tour season. Nadal is also in the Doha field.

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