(November 20, 2015) LONDON, UK – Is there such a thing as an inconsequential match? On paper, Rafael Nadal had nothing to lose or indeed gain with his final group round robin match, while David Ferrer was playing for sheer pride at the ATP World Tour Finals on Friday
At the start it actually looked like Nadal was on a mission to put his compatriot out of his misery early, but with typical tenaciousness, Ferrer scrapped and scampered his way back into the match, indeed nudging the lead once back on serve. Having reeled off four games in a row, Ferrer kept toe-to-toe with Nadal, forcing a tie-break and running away with it to take the first set off Nadal 7-6(4).
That would get the crowd sitting up, as a highly competitive second set was decided with a late break after Nadal failed to capitalize on an earlier break point.
An epic 14-minute hold at the start of the second set would help maybe speed Ferrer to a face saving win, but once more it was a late break that confirmed Nadal’s resurgence. The world No. 6 went on to win 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.
As gritty and as dogged as Ferrer is, it was maybe unfair of him to come away with a 0-3 record, but he is as determined as he is consistent, so do not count out seeing him again this time next year.
Nadal faces three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic next.
“It is very important for me to be finishing the season like this, competing well against the best players,” said Nadal, when he was interviewed on court.
“Novak is playing almost better than impossible. He is achieving almost everything that one player can dream. I have to play to the limit of my best to have a chance.”
The straight shoot-out between Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray came in the evening session. Prior to the match many felt it would come down to whichever Wawrinka showed up, but in truth while the more aggressive player got the first strike, Murray kept him in check and even built up a solid lead in the resulting first set tie-break which went to the Swiss 7-4.
Therein lay the issue – ahead and looking in control a run of basic errors cost Murray the set, with Wawrinka having to do not very much at all. He continued that streak into the start of the second set with an early break but it was the Swiss’ turn to lose the plot as he served out for the match at 5-2.
Murray looked to be clawing his way back to level terms, but he really had not left enough time, and once some errors swept in giving Wawrinka a 7-6(4), 6-4 win which sets up a rematch of the last year’s prickly semifinal with compatriot Roger Federer.
“It was important to get the first set,” Wawrinka said in his on court interview “It was a tough battle, it’s always tough against Andy. It was an amazing atmosphere, I really enjoyed it tonight.
“It’s going to be an interesting match [against Federer] for sure, we played a crazy match last year, it’s always special against him. I will try to rest and be ready for tomorrow.”
The semifinals start at 12pm GMT on Saturday.