LONDON -- It seems rumours of Rafael Nadal's demise may have been exaggerated after all.
The 14-time grand slam winner had admitted coming into the ATP World Tour Finals that his performances for most of 2015 were simply not good enough. But he continues to finish the season with a flourish, seeing off world No.4 and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-2.
It was a more competitive match than the final scoreline suggests -- it took Nadal one hour and 22 minutes to seal victory, with Wawrinka digging deep to save 11 of 15 break points in the match.
But it was Nadal who proved more ruthless as he continued his resurgence, improving to a 14-4 record since the U.S. Open. His 19 defeats in 2015 may be the most of his 14-year career, and he may have slipped to No.10 -- his lowest ranking since 2005 -- in June, but the end of the season is providing reasons for hope.
"I am happy the way that I am working, happy the way that I am competing the last couple of actually two, three months," Nadal, who was absent last year after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix, said in his post-match press conference.
"For me is important to keep going the same way, no? Is obvious when you coming from a bad period, not everything will be like this. But in general, the dynamic is very positive. Every day for me now is an opportunity to enjoy on court, enjoy the competition, something that I missed for moments this year. Just try my best in every single match. That's what I am doing. Just enjoying.
"The way I am playing at the end of this season helps to try to start the next year with a different energy than what I started last year. It's obvious that I am working hard.
"If I am able to play well here, I think that's great news because that can be a good chance to start next year again with positive feelings. That's my main goal."
Doubts obviously remain as to whether Nadal can get back anywhere close to the form that previously took him to the No.1 spot in the world. Wednesday's clash against Andy Murray should provide further evidence.
"Is an opportunity for me to compete against the No.2 of the world, a player who had a great season, a fantastic player in every surface, but especially in this one he likes to play," said Nadal. "I'm excited to play that match. I only take that match like an opportunity to play against him, to try to play a good match. I going to try."
Both Wawrinka and Nadal broke to love at the start of the first set before the Spaniard took his second break point for a 5-3 lead, closing out the opener in 37 minutes.
The Swiss saved seven break points, four of them with aces, for a crucial hold at the start of the second set, but it was then Nadal's turn -- he saved two in his first service game, the second with an exquisite lob which inspired a jump and a fist pump to the delight of the crowd.
Nadal was slightly more ruthless at the next time of asking, taking his first of two break points for a 2-1 lead. He struck again to go 4-1 up before closing out the straight-sets win.
"He's [Nadal] playing better than few months ago, that's for sure," said Wawrinka in his post-match press conference. "You can see the last two months he made some final, played some good match, beat some top-10 guys, playing a little bit more aggressive, staying a little bit more on his line.
"But still for sure he's not where he wants to be probably or where he was when he was No.1 and really strong. But so far he's been playing better."
In Monday's afternoon match, Andy Murray moved within one win of the year-end world No.2 spot with a battling victory against David Ferrer.
The British No.1, who mostly trained on clay last week in preparation for the Davis Cup final later this month, came through 6-4, 6-4 in 90 minutes at the O2 Arena.