After four days of action at the ATP Finals, no real surprises thus far. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have both dominated. Nadal has looked good in two wins in the lesser Group A while today Djokovic joined the Spaniard by securing a semifinal berth of his own after edging Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for his second three set win of the week.
The victory was also Novak’s 19th straight since losing to Rafael Nadal at the US Open. And with the exception of the middle six months of the year, Djokovic’s been unbeatable, literally. And no one is playing better right now.
“I had a great start of the season and great now ending of the season, for sure,” Djokovic said. “I would pick these two parts of the year as the best for me. Summer was up and down. But after US Open, even during the US Open, I played some good tennis, was a good match in the finals. Then 18, now 19 wins in a row for me after Davis Cup. I just feel well at this particular part of the year. I know most of the players are exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, after a long season. But, you know, I try to find that as an opportunity for me, you know, to get extra motivated to kind of push myself to the limit and deliver the goods when needed.”
And he’s right. Even though Nadal’s wrapped up the No. 1 ranking, by still winning the Finals Djokovic will put himself into better position of regaining the top spot come spring time. It’s a great opportunity.
“I’m playing the best tennis I think I played throughout the whole season,” Djokovic said. “That’s something that I take as a positive for this moment and for obviously next season. I’m definitely feeling confident, more confident than I was a few months ago. And Nadal has ended as world No. 1 in 2013, and he deserves that. No question about it. He won two Grand Slams. He played the best tennis this year.”
Del Potro, who lost another tough three set match, will now face Roger Federer Saturday with the winner advancing. The Argentine, though, is feeling the fatigue of a busy fall workload.
“It’s going to be a decision match for both,” Del Potro said. “We play in every Masters, the last match of the group, and we always play for something, which is good for be focus and with the high expectations.
I will try to do my best. I know for me has been a long season, a lot of matches in the end of the year. I’m getting tired. But is the last effort. Could be the last effort of the year, so I will try to enjoy and do the best I can.”
Federer played some strong tennis in an efficient 6-4, 6-3 win over Richard Gasquet. The win was Roger’s third Top 10 scalp of the season but he’ll need to do more come Saturday in the as he faced Del Potro for the third time in as many weeks.
“I think the win in Paris was big for me because he did beat me three times indoors straight, the Basel finals twice, and also here last year,” Federer said of Del Potro. “All very special in its own way because Basel is my home city. So it was very interesting for me to be playing the finals there against him, then here last year I was already qualified, so sort of those matches that are hard to manage.”
So tomorrow, Rafael Nadal can lock up the top spot in Group A as he takes on Tomas Berdych. It’s actually a crucial match for Rafa who has never won the ATP Finals. With Djokovic likely to roll Gasquet on Saturday and emerge as the top seed out of his Group B, Nadal won’t want to finish second in Group A and have to play the Serb in the semis on Sunday.
I think Nadal wins and in the other match I’ll give a slight edge to the Stan Wawrinka over David Ferrer who’s maybe out of gas after a busy three weeks of runner-up finishes.
Tennis Channel will have the Ferrer match at 9am ET with ESPN televising Nadal-Berdych at 3pm ET.
FRIDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
2pm, David Ferrer v Stanislas Wawrinka
8pm Rafael Nadal v Tomas Berdych
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Rafael Nadal Just 130pts Behind Leader Novak Djokovic In 2013 ATP Ranking Race; Federer At No. 11