Less than two weeks ago, world no.4 Stan Wawrinka had handed a two-set 7-6, 7-6 defeat to former world no.1 Rafael Nadal and based on their individual forms in the current season so far, the Swiss was expected to beat the Spaniard once more. That didn’t happen on Monday in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London. After initial hiccups, Nadal got the better of Wawrinka in his Round-Robin opener. In the other match, Great Britain’s world no.2 Andy Murray scored his fifth straight win over Spain’s David Ferrer. The Briton benefitted from an unduly large number of unforced errors committed by Ferrer.
The big news at London’s O2 Arena on Monday was Rafael Nadal beating Stan Wawrinka. All through the season, Nadal has been struggling and the consistency in his game has suffered. But the Spaniard was strong in his self-belief that he could still bounce back to old glory. In his first match of the World Tour finals, Nadal faced Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka. The 30-year old 2015 French Open champion has been in superb form this season and he was expected to beat the former world no.1. But the dogged Spaniard defied the generally held pre-match notions about Wawrinka’s victory in some sections of tennis media. The first set of their encounter began with both players trading breaks in the first two games as neither of them could find the service rhythm. Afterwards, however, the next few games went on serves until Nadal broke Wawrinka once again for a 5-3 lead and served out to win the first set. Nadal carried the momentum into the second set with double break on his opponent’s service and raced away to a 5-1 lead. Two games later, he had snatched the 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Swiss, who committed as many as 35 unforced errors in his loss. This is Nadal’s 11th year in the ATP World Tour Finals but he has never won the title. The Spaniard’s best finishes were in 2010 and 2013, when ended up as the runner-up.
In the only other singles match on Monday, world no.2 Andy Murray defeated Spain’s no.7 seed David Ferrer. The Briton is now one match-win away from ensuring his no.2 spot in Emirates ATP Rankings. It is the eighth straight year that Murray has qualified for the Tour Finals. In the first set, the two players held serves until 4-4. Though Murray held three break points in the eighth game, he couldn’t convert any. However, Murray found the much-needed break in the 10th game to take the opening set in 47 minutes. In the second set, Ferrer bounced back with an early break to lead 2-0 but Murray soon worked his way around to level at 3-3 and broke once again to take the 90-minute match at 6-4, 6-4. Murray rode on Ferrer’s 24 unforced errors and now plays Rafael Nadal in their second match on Wednesday while Ferrer takes on Stan Wawrinka.
In the doubles matches on Monday, third-seeded Croat Ivan Dodig and Brazilian Marcelo Melo saved two match points at 4-5 in the second set before coming through with a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6, 10-7 victory against no.6 seeded French pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Herbert/Mahut looked like pocketing the match after winning the first set and leading 5-4 in the second but the Croatian/Brazilian duo dug deep to turn the tables on their opponents. Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer and Romanian Horia Tecau had a rather easy 6-2, 6-4 victory over Poland’s Marcin Matkowski and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic.
Tuesday’s matches hold great importance for both Djokovic and Federer. If the Serbian defeats Federer, he will qualify for the semifinals provided Kei Nishikori also defeats Berdych. But if Nishikori loses in 3 sets to Berdych, then Djokovic must beat Federer in straight sets. On the other hand, Federer will qualify if he beats Djokovic and Berdych beats Nishikori. However, if Nishikori takes 3 sets in beating Berdych, Federer should beat Djokovic in 2 sets.