By Ros Satar
• Rafael Nadal  def. David Ferrer  6-7(2), 6-3 6-4
• Stan Wawrinka  def. Andy Murray  7-6(4) 6-4
LONDON, UK – The Barclays ATP World Tour semi-finals were set as Group winner Rafael Nadal defeated David Ferrer and Stan Wawrinka ended Andy Murray’s run.
Rafael Nadal  def. David Ferrer  6-7(2), 6-3 6-4
Much as for Roger Federer in yesterday’s final round-robin matches for Group Stan Smith, it was all about how Nadal would play in a virtually meaningless match, having already qualified for the semi-final.
As winner of the group, he will face three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, and it is likely to be a bruising encounter if both are playing to their best.
Certainly at the start of the match, this was looking very much like this would be a foregone conclusion, jumping out to a 3-0 lead only for Ferrer to dial back into his game to bring things back on serve, reeling off four game on the bounce.
Again when it looked like Nadal had delivered the crucial blow, breaking for 6-5 and serving for the set, he could not hang on to his serve, despite staving off four break points and having a set point himself – Ferrer was not going to go quietly into the murky night.
A woeful start in the tie-break had the younger Spaniard on the back foot, as Ferrer sped out to a 5-2 lead, closing it out quite comfortably.
Any doubts we might have had that Nadal was going to treat this as an inconsequential loss went out the window, when he broke at the end of a competitive second set, having put Ferrer under a little pressure on the service game before, and taking more advantage at the end of the set, serving out for a rare decider in these parts!
No-one was expecting the 14 minute service hold where Ferrer had to hold off Nadal, who wanted in for a kill now, for five break points. Many thought that would actually be a crucial hold, and again the set was largely competitive between the Spaniard, with not much between them at all.
A vital break for Nadal at the end of the set and a single match point to wrap it up and it was a tale of two score-lines for the Spaniard. Nadal of course finished top of the group anyway, but 3/0 while Ferrer, who is a consistent presence here was perhaps unjustly awarded the wooden spoon of 0/3.
Nadal’s reward of course is a semi-final against the World No. 1, and he seems to be ready.
He said, after the match: “For me is an important victory. Doesn’t matter if I was qualified. As I said before, for me the main goal is try to arrive in good shape next year. Today was an opportunity to play against another of the top eight players of the world in a tough surface, good surface for him. I think he likes to play here.
“I need to play my best to have any chance. The right work is done. Lot of positive things during the last weeks.”
Stan Wawrinka  def. Andy Murray  7-6(4) 6-4
Never afraid of trying something new, Murray’s entire support team was sitting up on the gods for the match which had a place in the semi-finals riding on it, and the year-end No. 2 spot.
Even allowing for Wawrinka’s slightly weaker serving at the start of the match the Swiss quickly started to build up a lot of momentum with some very solid hitting, and he was rewarded with a break that had been brewing. But credit to Murray who came right back at the Swiss.
Wawrinka, who had already smacked his racquet about earlier in the set looked like he was about to have another fit at it, after going down a mini-break in the tie-break. Where it looked as though Murray’s lack of aggressiveness was going to cost him, now it seemed that it was working in his favour in the longer rallies.
Up until now he had been doing just enough defending to draw the errors from the Swiss, but you can never be too passive with Wawrinka. Suddenly his accuracy and range started to desert him., allowing Wawrinka to edge back into the lead, as error after error flew from Murray’s racquet.
The momentum, such as it was stayed with the Swiss as he broke at the start of the second set, and with a 5-2 lead and serving for the set it looked as though Murray was heading for an early bath, but Wawrinka clawed back the three break points, before giving up a fourth.
Was a come-back on the cards? The confident hold to love that followed from Murray certainly gave that appearance, and it even looked as if he would break him again to get things back on level terms. But the errors that had been plaguing Murray came with a careless backhand miss.
The assessment was short and to the point from Murray: “I made too many errors. It was tough. I couldn’t quite get the balance. Because when I was going for my shots, I felt like I was making errors. Even in the last game, as well, a couple of backhands, one in the middle of the net on a deuce point, and match point, another simple backhand into the tramlines. Way too many errors. Cheap ones, as well. Disappointing.”
Wawrinka said: “I had a tough match now, two hours’ match with a lot of pressure. I also feel quite tired. I’m going to be focused on that, try to rest, try to recover and be ready for hopefully a good match.”
Djokovic v Nadal is scheduled not before 2pm and Federer v Wawrinka is scheduled not before 8pm (all times GMT).
Main Image Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty
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