• ATP World Tour Finals

Nadal ties down world No.1 for the year

Ismail Vedat at the O2
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Rafael Nadal has never lost a set and a match to Stanislas Wawrinka © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal will end the season as the world No. 1 for the third time in his career after he extended his unblemished record against Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals.

The Spaniard is aiming to become champion at the season-ending tournament for the first time, and is into the semi-finals after making it two wins from two in his round-robin group with a 7-6(5) 7-6(6) victory over Wawrinka.

The Verdict

  • Easy group or not, Rafael Nadal does not take anything for granted.
  • With dominant records against David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych coming into it, Rafa has approached his encounters with Ferrer and Wawrinka as if it was their very first meeting, and now that he has qualified for the last four don't expect him to ease off against Berdych.
  • While many will believe he was dealt a good hand with the group for this year's event, he has remained professional throughout the tournament so far, and was given a stern test by Wawrinka today in two tough tiebreaks.
  • He played on the court with the calmness that he talked about in his conference yesterday, and that could be a key factor in whether he ends the week as the champion for the very first time.

On Tuesday, he defeated David Ferrer in straight sets, and 24 hours later he collected a 12th win in 12 against tournament-debutant Wawrinka to become the first player to reach the last four at the O2 this year.

Most players have losing records against Nadal, but Wawrinka has yet to take a set off the top-ranked player - despite losing out in two tiebreaks to the reigning French and US Open champion.

Wawrinka saved one break point in the sixth game with an ace clocked at 133mph, but the Swiss failed to repeat the trick to fend off a second as he served a double fault to hand Nadal the advantage.

At 5-4 and serving for the first set, Nadal was rocked by a time violation warning from the umpire at 30-all, and consequently squandered his opportunity to close out the first set as Wawrinka restored parity at 5-5.

Wawrinka forced Nadal to hold serve to take the set into a tiebreak, and with the pair deadlocked at 5-5 the best point of the match arrived at a critical time for both players.

Wawrinka was in control of the lengthy rally after pinning Nadal far behind the baseline, but when Nadal launched a defensive lob to remain in the point, it landed just inside the back of the court, and Wawrinka fired his backhand wide.

At 6-5 in front Nadal clinched the set after Wawrinka looked as though he would win the point, and the Swiss reacted angrily by hitting the net in anger and then smashing his racquet against the umpire's chair, to which he received a warning for.

Twice Wawrinka was unable to capitalise on break points in the third game of the second set as Nadal secured a vital hold, which enabled the Spaniard to convert one of three break opportunities in the following game to open up a two-game cushion.

A pattern began to emerge as Wawrinka once again could not seal a break, and Nadal consolidated the advantage to go 4-1 in front.

Wawrinka though began to fight back by taking three games on the spin to level at 4-4, despite raising his arms in the air apologetically after his volley clipped the net cord landed safely.

Nadal stormed to four of the opening five points of the tiebreak, but Wawrinka hit back with five consecutive points to land a set point. Nadal saved it, and went on to seal the win on his one and only match point as he jumped with joy on court after being pegged back twice.

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