- Nadal Survives Ferrer, Seals 3-0 Group Campaign (ATP World Tour)
Following a rocky start to 2015, the World No. 5 is gaining significant momentum at the season finale in London. A 17-4 post-US Open mark has included five Top 10 wins and now three straight this week at The O2. He enters an Open Era record 46th clash against Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-finals after surviving a gritty two-hour and 37-minute battle against Ferrer. Tested often, he refused to back down, even with a semi-final berth already assured.
- After Unusual Stumbles, Rafael Nadal’s Year Ends in Hope (The New York Time)
Nadal did not take a set off Djokovic in three matches this year, including a quarterfinal loss at the French Open. Last month, Djokovic thumped Nadal, 6-2, 6-2, in the final at Beijing on outdoor hardcourts.
“The best tactic possible is play very, very well,” Nadal said. “Let’s see tomorrow if I am able to win more games.”
If he cannot solve Djokovic, Nadal will return to the practice court for answers. He is not allowing himself much downtime during the off-season.
“I don’t deserve vacation this year,” he said with a grin.
- Rafa Nadal tops David Ferrer for confidence boost ahead of World Tour Finals semifinal with Novak Djokovic (ESPN)
“That’s another step. A really difficult match against a player who is playing just better, impossible I believe,” Nadal said in his press conference. “I need to play my best to have any chance. That’s what I going to try.
“But the right work is done. Lot of positive things during the last weeks. Very good confirmation this week. So tomorrow is another opportunity to compete against the best, to see if I am able to compete at a very high level again.”
“Let’s see what’s going to happen,” Nadal said. “But I am very happy about what I did in the last five weeks of the season. I finish the season the way that I really want to start the next one.”
Nadal’s recent upturn hasn’t gone unnoticed by Djokovic.
“First couple of matches he played here against Wawrinka and Murray showed that he feels more confident, shows that he’s starting to miss less, serve efficiently, use his forehand much better,” Djokovic told reporters Thursday.
Nadal hasn’t played many emotionally or mentally grueling matches lately. His camp will have to worry about how much this bitterly fought win over Ferrer took out of him.
But fatigue is unlikely to be a factor, not with just two matches left in the tournament year, and so big a prize awaiting the winner. Nadal knows that he has put himself into a position to win all that, and write a truly spectacular surprise ending to the story of his 2015.
- London Blockbusters Preview: Djokovic v Nadal; Federer v Wawrinka (ATP World Tour)
- And Then There Were Four (tennis.com)
Is this the moment when, after 10 years of chasing Nadal, Djokovic finally catches up? Rafa currently leads their head to head 23-22, but he’s hanging on by a thread.
PHOTOS: Rafa beats Ferrer in 3 sets