Novak Djokovic brought the curtain down on a fantastic 2013 campaign with a thumping win over major rival Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena here in London. The World No.2 was comprehensive in his defeat of World No.1 Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in just over an hour and a half to defend the crown he won last year. Matches between the duo have tended to be protracted affairs in the past, with fortunes swaying and both players pushed to the brink physically, but today Djokovic was a cut above Nadal and by their standards posted a relatively straightforward win.
The victory was Djokovic’s third at the World Tour Finals following victories in 2008 in Shanghai & last year here. It crowned a fine post US Open run where the Serb has remained undefeated through title runs in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and finally in London. For Nadal, it was a disappointment as his quest for a World Tour Finals championship continues to elude him. The Spaniard had last made the final in 2010 where his dreams had then been squashed by a superior Federer.
Earlier, Fernando Verdasco & David Marrero in their first appearance at the World Tour Finals upset top seeds and former champions Bob & Mike Bryan 7/5, 6/7(3), 10-7. The all Spanish duo followed in the footsteps of last years’ surprise winners Granollers & Lopez who also claimed their maiden triumph in their tournament debut. The duo shared $335,500 in prize money and 1,300 points, while the Bryans split $195,500 and 800 points.
On semifinals day at the ATP World Tour Finals, Rafael Nadal defeated arch rival Roger Federer to advance to his second final at season ending championships here at the O2 Arena. World No.1 Nadal overcame a fighting Federer in the first set before easing past the tiring Swiss in the second to claim his maiden win over Federer indoors 7-5, 6-3. Rafa had last made the final here 3 years ago where he lost to Federer, the man he beat today. Tomorrow, in the final, he will face another long term rival Novak Djokovic who overcame another Swiss top tenner with a single handed backhand Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka has troubled Djokovic in the past but today the defending champion overcame a slow start before powering through to defeat the Swiss No.2 6/3, 6/3 in probably his best match of the tournament. The world’s top two players Djokovic & Nadal now face off for the 39th
time tomorrow in the season finale. Djokovic has won this tournament twice and is the defending champion, while Nadal will be looking to plug the one major hole in his resume by capturing the World Tour Finals.
On the final day of Group A contests, one semifinal spot and the final pecking order were still up for grabs as Wawrinka took on Ferrer & Berdych clashed against Rafael Nadal. The debutante Swiss needed to beat Ferrer to give himself any hope of qualifying and in an excellent display fought back after dropping the first set to down the Spaniard 6/7(3), 6/4, 6/1 in a duel that extended over 2 hours. Having played his part, it was now out of his hands as he was left to endure the agonising wait for the result of the Berdych, Nadal encounter. Berdych had to beat Nadal to qualify and had the added carrot of topping the group dangling in front of him if he could knock Nadal over in straight sets. Sadly for Berdych and his fans, that wasn’t to be the case as despite threatening to upset the World No.1 faltered at the final hurdle as he fell short as Rafa ended the group unbeaten 6/4, 1/6, 6/3.
In the doubles, India’s sole contestant at the event Leander Paes partnering Radek Stepanek were knocked out of the tournament following a loss to Granollers & Lopez 6/4, 5/7, 8/10. The Indo-Czech duo finished with 1-2 record and their fate was sealed when Peya & Suarez defeated Marrero & Verdasco 6/3, 7/5.
It was a day of Bercy semifinal rematches here at the O2 Arena on day 2 as Djokovic resumed his rivalry with Federer and Nadal faced off against compatriot Ferrer just 3 days after they had previously clashed on Saturday. The top two ranked players prevailed over their opponents today in contrasting styles with Djokovic outlasting a spirited Federer 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2 while Nadal made short work of a tired Ferrer 6-3, 6-2. Both doubles matches went the distance as first Paes & Stepanek beat Peya & Soares 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 and then championship debutantes Dodig & Melo stunned the top seeds, the Bryan brothers 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 in tense match tie-breaks.
Novak Djokovic answered his critics in resounding fashion, reacting to losing the world no.1 ranking to Rafael Nadal in a true champion like manner, comprehensively thumping the Spanish superstar 6-3, 6-4 to win the China Open.
In a surprisingly one sided contest, the Serb was clinical in all aspects of his play, winning the match in just 87 minutes courtesy early breaks in both sets.
Nadal never really found his rhythm and failed to have any answer to Djokovic's serve which was on top form today. Djokovic lost just 6 points on his serve all match with the quicker courts in Beijing suiting his game perfectly.
Pre-tournament favourite, Rafael Nadal, lived up to his billing and stretched his incredible record on hard courts this year to 22-0, winning his second Grand Slam title of the year and his second US Open crown on Monday night. The irrepressible Nadal beat world no.1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a lopsided contest that for the first 2 hours and a bit looked like it could swing either way.
Nadal has had an incredible run on the American hard courts since his early exit from Wimbledon, and despite being lower ranked than Djokovic, was the slender favourite coming into Monday's title decider, having beaten the 26 year old Serb 21 times in their 36 career meetings. However, perhaps most crucially Nadal has looked better than ever on the hard courts these past few weeks, having switched from being the behind the baseline counter puncher to an aggressive finish the points early Nadal - one who was taking his opportunities to move forward and finish points quickly at the net.
On revamped super Saturday, the world’s highest ranked men staved off challenges of considerably varying natures to advance to the final of the 2013 US Open. Djokovic and Nadal will get a chance to reprise their rivalry for a 37th time on Monday following contrasting scorelines in their respective semifinals. Novak Djokovic had to battle through a 4 hour 9 minute slugfest against an inspired Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 while Rafael Nadal cruised past a defiant but underwhelming Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-2 in two hours twenty minutes.
In many ways the semifinals were a battle of the heavyweights against the middle weights and it certainly played out that way between Nadal and Gasquet. Gasquet cut and thrust like a fencer, but the bullish Nadal kept landing the big blows to keep the Frenchman’s challenge at arm’s length. In the first semifinal though, Wawrinka certainly tore up the script and took on the role of heavyweight himself. Going toe to toe with the World No.1 he pushed him to the hilt and it took all of Djokovic’s exceptional ability to extricate himself from adversity to finally prevail.