Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semi final in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Getty Images
Novak Djokovic easily swept aside Roger Federer 6-2, 6-1 on Friday and will play David Ferrer in the final of the World Tennis Championship exhibition.
Ferrer upset the second-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal. Nadal, who won the tournament the past two years, was nursing a sore shoulder and never seriously challenged his fellow Spaniard.
Nadal said his shoulder "felt OK, not perfect" but that he would still play at the season-opening ATP tournament in Doha next week.
"I knew before coming here that I was not ready to win a match against David Ferrer, not to win a match against Djokovic or Federer," Nadal said. "But I am ready to spend hours on court without risk of injury. That is the most important thing. I need this transition, hours of practice. If I am here, I will probably have a better feeling for Doha."
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic appeared to have shaken off the rust he complained about coming into the event and showed plenty of the dominant play that helped him amass a 70-6 record last season including three Grand Slam titles.
The 24-year-old Serb twice broke No. 3-ranked Federer in the first set and ran off nine games in a row in a one-sided affair that lasted only 44 minutes. In Saturday's final, Djokovic will face the winner of the match between second-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 5-ranked David Ferrer later Friday.
"It is the perfect start to season. I played great," Djokovic said. "It's something that makes me very happy."
However, Djokovic said fans shouldn't read too much into his win over Federer, against whom he had a 4-1 record in 2011, including victories at the Australian Open and U.S. Open.
Djokovic attributed his win in Abu Dhabi to having a match under his belt - a win over Gael Monfils on Thursday - and a quick start that gave him momentum and prompted Federer to make several unforced errors.
"He has won over 15 matches at the end of 2011 so I'm sure he won't feel down after this loss here," Djokovic said. "His main goal here is to get a couple of matches under his belt as it is for all of us."
Federer apologized to the crowd for disappointing them with his quick exit and promised to play better Saturday when he faces Nadal for third place. He said he felt "good overall" and "was moving well" but that he just was unable to chase down Djokovic's groundstrokes that repeatedly caught the corners.
"It's surprising when it goes quick and you are on the losing side. It's not so comfortable sometimes," Federer said.
"You try hard and try different things and it's not working. He was playing really well. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived match but we know he is a very good front runner. He took the lead in both sets quite early and that made it difficult because conditions were pretty quick and my game was not good enough today to make it more competitive."
Ferrer jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Nadal in their first set, helped by his powerful forehand and some poor serving by his opponent. Nadal got back to 5-3 but Ferrer clinched the first set when Nadal returned a serve into the net. Ferrer started fast again in the second set, taking a 4-0 lead and going on to win the match in 70 minutes when Nadal hit long.
Nadal said he needed "a little bit more power for everything, a little bit more confidence on the shoulder" to hurt his opponent with his serve. He said his biggest challenge was a lack of practice coming into the tournament, having only decided four days ago to play in Abu Dhabi.
The Spaniard is also playing with a slightly heavier racket which he said he was still adjusting to.
The six-man tournament in Abu Dhabi is seen as a warm-up for the new ATP season. The winner receives $250,000.