World No 1 Novak Djokovic comfortably beat his out-of-form rival Rafael Nadal on Friday at an exhibition match in the Thai capital designed to boost tourism in the junta-ruled nation.
The Serb, 28, cruised through the best-of-three-set contest at Hua Mark Indoor Stadium in eastern Bangkok, winning 6-4, 6-2, in the sponsored event also broadcast live on local television.
There were few long rallies in the service-dominated match, lasting just over an hour, with the Spaniard opening serve before being broken in the seventh game.
Djokovic dominated, successfully serving for the first set and securing an early break in the opening game of the second.
Nadal — who ended the season without a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2004 — failed to challenge his longstanding rival and was broken for a second time in the final set before the Serb sealed his win.
The leading tennis stars spent longer in official engagements than on the court on Friday, earlier meeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who seized power from an elected government as then-army chief in a military coup last May.
Dressed in traditional Thai silk shirts they also signed a book of well wishing for the hospitalised Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 87, the world’s longest-serving monarch, at the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s historic quarter.
Their Thai tour also included a visit to the Erawan shrine, the downtown site of the deadly August bomb attack that launched a fresh blow to the kingdom’s reputation as a tourism haven after last year’s coup and the anti-government protests which preceded it.
On Friday the Tourism Authority of Thailand released a statement saying the pair had “helped to promote Thailand’s tourist credentials”, drawing on their star power to show “it’s business as usual” in the country.
Djokovic has had a stellar tennis season this year, entering the double-digits with his 10th Grand Slam title at the US Open in September, now standing just seven behind the world record of Roger Federer.
While the Serb was lauded at Flushing Meadows, Nadal faced questions over his future after the 14-time major winner crashed to his earliest exit in New York in 10 years.
His poor form followed earlier quarterfinal exits at the Australian and French Opens and a second-round loss at Wimbledon.