By Ros Satar
- Novak Djokovic  v Rafael Nadal  22-23
- Nadal is winless against Djokovic this year
- Djokovic has won each of their matches while the World Tour Finals has been in London
LONDON, UK – Three time defending champion Novak Djokovic will try and reach his fourth consecutive final when he faces a resurgent Rafael Nadal in the semi-final at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
After suvch a dominant year, we could be forgiven for assuming that this would be little short of a formality. Djokovic has reigned supreme the last year years in London, and his 2015 has been outstanding.
Not even the vagaries of the round-robin format whereby a loss in the group stages still means there is a chance to qualify has dented the Serbian’s progress, although no-one expected that break in proceedings.
Even Roger Federer, who beat the World No. 1 in straight sets had said he hadn’t expected to win that group-stage match, preferring to concentrate instead of the rest of the group.
After his straight sets win over Djokovic he said: “I wouldn’t have picked it maybe before the tournament, you know, just because of his really good record on the indoors, the year he’s had, especially with the run he’s been on. I focused more on beating Berdych and Nishikori and let’s see what happens against Novak. That shows me that I didn’t expect this victory.
“We were just staying with each other really. I was just hoping I was going to get a good return game, which I did get eventually. Then winning the first set clearly in a match like this gives you the upper hand. It was important to strike again as quick as possible in the second set, and I did. I was a bit disappointed he got back on me, which didn’t happen in Cincinnati. It was a similar situation. But he did well to break. I stayed calm. At the end it was not that surprising because I was playing really well and he dropped his level towards the end.”
Djokovic could only surmise it was just one of those days, and even his final round-robin match against Tomas Berdych was not a match of the highest quality by his extraordinary standards this year.
“He found a way to play better, aggressive, more efficient and tactically smart. I think today we played two close sets. We both could have done better. We didn’t play on such a high level. We are aware of that.”
Is Djokovic just playing within himself until the semi-final? He has admitted the court plays to his strengths, and Nadal has (per usual) been less than happy with this particular surface as the favoured one for the year end championships.
We suspect that Djokovic will pull out some of the stops to ensure that he keeps his record against Nadal in London intact. Nadal is no stranger to the long and brutal rally and weathered a 14 minute grinding epic against David Ferrer, but at times was looking quote fatigued.
On paper this is Djokovic all the way, but probably will battle itself up to be a grueling three setter.
Djokovic and Nadal are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 2pm GMT.
Main Image Credit: Julian Finney/Getty
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