Monday 19 August 2019

Nadal and Djokovic to resume epic rivalry

Rafael Nadal in action during his match against David Ferrer
Rafael Nadal in action during his match against David Ferrer

Rafael Nadal set battled for more than two and a half hours to defeat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer and preserve his unbeaten record at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Ostensibly there was nothing for either man to play for - 200 ranking points and £109,000 aside - with Nadal already guaranteed top spot in the group and Ferrer eliminated.

But for two hours and 37 minutes they traded blows until Nadal, who has never won this tournament, finally prevailed 6-7 (2/7) 6-3 6-4.

The fifth seed must have thought it would be a straightforward afternoon when he broke serve twice to lead 3-0 in the opening set but it turned out to be anything but.

Nadal, who beat both Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray in straight sets, must now recover for a semi-final clash with world number one Novak Djokovic today.

Djokovic and Nadal have played each other more times than any other two players, and Djokovic will look to tie their head-to-head for the first time at 23-23.

The Serbian has dominated the rivalry over the past two years, winning seven of their last eight matches, and has not dropped a set to Nadal this year.

But he knows the Spaniard is playing his best tennis of the season having rediscovered his form and confidence.

Djokovic said: "It's a fact that he's been playing better and he's been raising his level ever since the US Open, I think.

"The first couple of matches he played here against Wawrinka and Murray showed that, showed that he feels more confident, shows that he's starting to miss less, serve efficiently, use his forehand much better."

Irish Independent

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