Seventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka (Player Profile) put up a great fight against Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) in the second round clash at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, but it was not good enough to record his first ever victory against the top-ranked Spaniard who is now alone at top of the Group A table.
Both players showed real quality in the action-packed opener with the top seed committing fewer errors and breaking in the fifth game. Wawrinka hung in there, though, and nearly broke back two games later before constructing some world class points to prevent Rafa serving out the set at 5-4. The follow-up tie-break was a real joy to watch with Nadal being slightly luckier of the two in the end.
The second set was as thrilling as the previous one – the Swiss did not let the first set defeat get to him as he threatened the opponent in the third game, but wasted a couple of break points before dropping his serve one game later. However, Stan coped well with the uphill battle and got back into the match once again by 4-4. He showed some nerves when double-faulting at 30-15 in the twelfth game, but remained strong in a long rally that followed and ultimately forced another tie-break by smashing an ace. He then came back from two mini-breaks down to generate his first set point at 6-5, yet Nadal was again at his best defensively and had a match point in his hands two rallies later. Wawrinka then attacked after his second serve, but he netted a forehand which allowed the dominant Spaniard to pick up his second victory of the tournament by winning 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) after two hours and twelve minutes of play at the O2 Arena.
The Swiss number two claimed 80% of first serve rallies (Nadal 65%), but sadly for him his first serve percentage stayed below fifty percent, whilst his rival had a 58% efficiency in this category. The total points won ratio was 81-80 in Wawrinka’s favor, yet this will come as little consolation to him as he is yet to steal a set off the World no. 1 who thus further improved the head-to-head record which now stands at 12-0. Apart from securing a London semi-final spot, Nadal will finish the year atop of the ATP Rankings thanks to today’s straight sets triumph.
“Today, it was more important secure the No. 1 at the end of the season,” said Nadal. “[It is] one of the best things that I have done in my career – coming back to the No. 1 after three seasons. That’s very difficult in our sport… and the good thing is [that] after two matches now, I can really be focused only on the tournament because the year end is over.”
“It’s a strange feeling right now,” Wawrinka commented on the defeat. “For sure, I’m really disappointed. I was playing the right tennis, but maybe made a few mistakes on the important points. But at the end of the day it’s Rafa in front. He’s the No. 1 player. It’s so tough to play him. That’s why he’s so good, because even when you play good tennis, your best tennis, he’s still there, still trying to find a way to win it.”