Rafael Nadal scored one of his best wins of the season dismantling World No. 2 Andy Murray 6-4, 6-1 in round robin play at the ATP Finals Wednesday.
Because Stan Warwinka later won a set in his comeback 7-5, 6-2 win over David Ferrer, Nadal qualifies for a spot in the semifinals.
“I have had a big day against a great player on a tough surface,” said Nadal. “I’m just happy the way that I played today, happy the way I was working. Just another step for me be able to play at that level, against such a great player, is good news. Happy for that. Just want to try to keep working the same way to keep confirming that I am in the completely right direction.”
Murray came out sharp early, but quickly faded and fell apart in front of his home fans.
“He was able to dictate most of the points and he was hitting the ball harder than he was at the beginning of the match,” said Murray. “I was starting to drop the ball shorter. Obviously when he’s inside the court, he’s extremely, extremely good. He can move his forehand around very well. He can use all of the angles on the court and make you do a lot of moving.
“He’s clearly playing better tennis now than a few months ago. Also I didn’t help myself out there today. I served extremely low percentage, maybe lowest percentage I served the whole year in any match. It was like the low 40s and in the second set like 35 per cent. That’s not good enough against someone as good as Rafa.”
Murray drops to 6-16 against Nadal, and now might have to beat Wawrinka on Friday to qualify for weekend play.
Wawrinka kept his hopes alive coming back from 5-3 down in the first to cruise past David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2.
“My game start to feel better out there,” said Wawrinka. “I didn’t start well. I starting to play a little bit better the middle of the first set. I’m a little bit lucky he gave me back the game to come back. I’m quite happy with the win, especially to turn around the first set and finish that way.”
On tap Thursday, Roger Federer meets Kei Nishikori with an eye toward winning the Stan Smith group getting a seed to play the Nastase #2.
Novak Djokovic will be hoping for Federer to win when the Serb faces Tomas Berdych. If Roger wins, Djokovic will need only a set against Berdych to advance. Otherwise, the Serb will have to beat Tomas to stay alive.
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