Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rafael Nadal Edges Closer On Year End Number 1 Ranking as Djokovic Grinds Roger Federer

Day 2 of the Barclays World Tour Masters finals saw ATP comeback player of the year Rafa Nadal take on Number 3 seed David Ferrer in a battle of the Spaniards. Nadal easily saw off the effort of his compatriot 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes to avenge his defeat to the same player just 3 days ago in Paris. It was their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of the season.

"I played a little calmer than other the day," said Nadal. "In my opinion, he didn't have the chance to hit a winner as easy as he did three days ago."

Rafael Nadal is one match win away from becoming year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third time (also 2008, 2010) should he beat Wawrinka for a perfect 2-0 round robin record. The same score line will also see the 27-year-old Nadal qualify for the semi-finals, at The O2 in London or if he beats Wawrinka and Ferrer overcomes Tomas Berdych.

Nadal improved to a 72-6 match record on the season. He has won 10 titles – including at two majors and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000s – from 13 finals since early February, when he returned from a seven-month injury lay-off.

"Rafael play good, he started very solid," said Ferrer. "I didn't play my game [throughout] the match. I made a lot of mistakes. I was not comfortable at the court. For me to beat Rafael, I need to be more focused."

Nadal is now 21-4 this year against Top 10 opponents in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Ferrer has won 55-plus matches for the fourth straight year. He dropped to a 60-22 season record, which includes two titles at the Heineken Open in Auckland (d. Kohlschreiber) and the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires (d. Wawrinka).

In the other match of the day, World number 2 Novak Djokovic ground down Roger Federer 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 in his opening match to preserve his slim hopes of ending the year on top of the rankings.

Serbian Djokovic, who beat Federer in last year's final, must win at least two of his Group B matches to have any chance of toppling Rafael Nadal.

World number seven Federer, bidding for a seventh title at the year-ender, fired a forehand wide to give Djokovic the opening set after 37 minutes of an eagerly-awaited contest in front of a sell-out crowd at the 02 Arena. The 26-year-old Djokovic improved to a 68-9 match record as he won his third straight FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against the Swiss number 1.

Djokovic, whose winning now spans 18 matches since he lost to Nadal in the U.S. Open final, joins Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, whom he plays on Thursday, at the top of the group.

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