(November 6, 2013) LONDON – It was double the joy for Rafael Nadal as he came through two very entertaining and high quality sets to beat Stanislas Wawrinka – not only securing a place in the ATP World Tour Finals semi-finals, but also ensuring that he would see out the year as the World No. 1.
His comeback has been nothing short of remarkable, as he has destroyed the field in almost every tournament he has played, since sitting out seven months to recover from a knee injury.
Even his comeback in 2013 was delayed as he was laid low with a virus which meant he had to miss the Australian Open. But since he returned to the tour, he has been all but stoppable.
For Stan Wawrinka, making his debut at the World Tour Finals, he did not disgrace himself in the match by any means, and in their past history the Swiss has been able to push Nadal close.
Many may have felt that the result would be a foregone conclusion when the Spaniard got the break in the first set – and as opportunities came within Wawrinka’s grasp and left again, a small bunch of loyal Swiss fans in the corner must have wondered if they were going to be leaving in disappointment for the second time in two days.
But Wawrinka rallied to force a tie-breaker, but just could not close it out. It looked like it was all over as Nadal raced ahead to another lead but somehow Wawrinka managed to break back to get on level terms, only to be thwarted again at the tie-break.
It was heartbreaking for the man who has really stepped out of the shadows this year, as he certainly put up some of the best tennis of his year, if not career on show.
Wawrinka said, after the match: “I was playing the right tennis, but maybe did few mistake in the importunate point. That’s why he’s so good, because even when you play good tennis, our best tennis, he’s still there, still trying to find a way to win it.”
For Nadal though, clinching the year-end number one slot was especially satisfying:
“After all the success I had during the season winning five Masters 1000s, playing a final in another, winning a few 500s, playing another final, winning two Grand Slams, so I think that after what happened last year, I felt I deserved to be there at the end of the season.”
Nadal still has a round robin match to play, against Tomas Berdych and the fight will be on now for the second qualifier in Group A.