The quality of tennis in the first set was breathtaking from the first ball with Federer opening up proceedings with an ace and neither man giving an inch.
The crowds in London have always been very supportive of Federer but the roof of the massive complex at the O2 was lifted off with roar after roar of approval as Federer found himself with three break point opportunities on Nadal’s serve. But the Spaniard saved the first with a thundering forehand, while Federer had his forehand to curse as the other two points went begging.
But if he was irritated by squandering those chances, he certainly made up for it by blasting through the next game to love. The first chinks in the Swiss armor started to show though when three breaks in a row pushed Nadal ahead, as he took the first set for the second time of asking.
It was just a simple error of judgment on Federer’s part to make a lackluster approach shot which simply begged for a Nadal winner to fly past him, securing the single break he needed to win the match.
After the match Federer said: “The margins were more on his side. He was playing more consistent. He was playing more solid. I just couldn’t come up with the shots when I needed them, forehand or serve, moving forward.
Nadal has won all his matches so far, and looked ahead briefly to the final:
“I think if I don’t play my best tomorrow, I [won’ t] have chances. I need to play more aggressive. It’s true that today I tried to play aggressive from the beginning, but is very difficult to play aggressive against a player who try to go for the shots in every ball.”
Tennis Panorama News is in London covering the ATP World Tour Finals. Follow our twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN.