David Ferrer (Player Profile) produced one of his most inspiring performances of 2013 last week when he toppled World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) en route to the finals of the BNP Paribas Masters, and is poised to repeat the feat once again as he is drawn against his fellow countryman in the round robin stage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2013 on Tuesday afternoon. The victory over Rafa snapped a seven match win streak for the top seed over Ferrer and marks only the second tournament this season (out of 15) that he failed to reach the final, which is a testament to the massive accomplishment the little beast Ferrer achieved last week. He will now need to capitalize on the momentum of that win and play an almost identical match against Rafa once again to help his chances at toppling the giant a second time. Check out the Nadal vs Ferrer Head to Head.
While Ferrer failed to defend his title when he lost a close yet decisive match to Novak Djokovic, his performances throughout the week were certainly redeeming following some disappointing losses in the prior weeks. It was a much needed confidence boost for the Spaniard, who was a dominant force heading into last year’s Tour Finals when he was riding high from his first Masters title win but failed to retain that aura in the 2013 season. He has not been as consistent in his wins and has allowed competitors far below his standard to defeat him on the tour this season, which is highly uncharacteristic for Ferrer. Over the past month, Ferrer has lost in the finals of all three tournaments he has participated in (Paris, Valencia, Stockholm) , which has to be deflating to one’s self-confidence at such a crucial stage of the season. While all the matches were competitive affairs, Ferrer simply was not able to maintain a lead and was committing far more errors than were characteristic in his game. It will be interesting to see how motivated he is to perform at the ATP Tour Finals in London and close out the season in a strong position for the upcoming year.
Nadal failed to make history last week when he was unable to capture a record sixth Masters 1000 title in a season but now sets his focus on what he considers to be the biggest title missing from his collection, and it would certainly mark the consummate conclusion to the perfect season for the Spaniard. In a way, he is still capable of making history as the only man to ever end the year as World No. 1 twice after losing the title but will once again need to topple longtime friend David Ferrer, who has proven to be a formidable challenge following their shocking Paris encounter. Rafa has since admitted that he was not at his best during the match and was stumbling along court unable to keep up with Ferrer and his shotmaking.
“I need to move quicker. I was slow,” Nadal reflected. “I felt that I [was] always a little bit late on the ball. David, he’s quick and he plays inside the court and he puts you pressure on you all the time. If I move [better], I’m going to have the chance to hit the ball quicker and play with [fewer] mistakes.”
While Nadal holds an incredible 32-3 record on hard courts this season, he admits that it is his weakest surface (particularly the indoor courts) and that Ferrer has more advantages on this surface when his game is on point. This was apparent in their previous match, where Ferrer seemed to control the majority of the rallies and had Nadal off balance more often than not. Nadal will definitely have that in mind for this next match and will certainly fight hard to make sure he does not surrender an early break as in their last match. Nadal will have a day more of rest than Ferrer and will have more than enough time to ponder a successful strategy to thwart the World No. 3 this time around.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal defeats David Ferrer