An entertaining match-up between the newly-crowned year-end No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) and Tomas Berdych (Player Profile) takes place Thursday night at the ATP World Tour Finals 2013 in London. The last time Berdych defeated Nadal was back in the Madrid Masters in 2006. Of their 19 previous encounters, Nadal has won a stunning sixteen of those matches, mostly in dominant fashion. Check out the Nadal v Berdych Head to Head.
The Spaniard moved to 2-0 in round robin play with his straight sets victory over Stanislas Wawrinka. It was a tough and competitive match that Nadal needed to battle through aggressively to once again deny the Swiss a single set. Nadal secured breaks in both sets but had both breaks unceremoniously snatched back by Wawrinka, who forced tiebreaks in both sets. Nadal’s gameplay was far too aggressive for ‘Stan the Man’, who commit costly unforced errors that eventually lost him both the tiebreaks. It was a valiant performance from the Swiss but also emphasized the extraordinary form that Rafa is currently in this late in the season.
Following his magnificent accomplishment, Nadal is looking to finally win the year-end championships for the first time in his storied career, and with a place already booked in the semi-finals, the match with Berydch is merely momentum building at this stage. The World Tour Finals is arguably the only major title missing from Nadal’s extraordinary cabinet of trophies and he is clearly motivated to capture it and truly put an end to his best ever year on the tour.
Berdych improved tremendously from his opening match against Stanislas Wawrinka as he dismantled the World no. 3 David Ferrer and likely ended his World Tour Finals run in the process, with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. He won 29 of 30 points on his first serve, hit 9 aces, 30 winners (Ferrer hit six) and managed to break serve at 4-4 in both sets and did not have any difficulty closing out the sets after that. Berdych fixed many of his mistakes from his opening match as he controlled the rallies with uncharacteristic patience and only becoming aggressive when he saw the opportunities. The match lasted exactly 83 minutes and kept the Czech No. 1’s hopes alive at reaching the semi-finals.
Now Berdych will face his toughest match in the group stage and he is well aware of the challenge ahead.
“Matches against him are always like a final because you’re playing the number one player in the world,” Berdych said about Nadal.”Every time you go on court with him it’s amazing. It’s already many, many matches that he’s won [against me] and I need to do something about that.”
It has been seven years since Berdych last defeated Nadal. Since then, Rafa has won 15 consecutive matches against the Czech, most of which ended in straight sets. Their last competitive encounter took place in the 2012 Australian Open, where Berdych managed to take a set off the Spaniard. While he recovered nicely for his match against Ferrer, it is hard to see how Berdych could control the match tomorrow. Nadal has been a near unstoppable force and will likely take a straight sets victory tomorrow.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets