Monday, February 26, 2024

Djokovic sets up Nadal final

Defending champion Novak Djokovic set up a title showdown against Rafa Nadal at the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3 6-3 defeat of Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday, reports Reuters. The Serb, who lost his number one ranking to Nadal in October, was too solid for Wawrinka in the day’s second semi-final as he racked up a 14th consecutive victory over the 28-year-old.
Djokovic used all his defensive skills in the eighth game of the first set to convert a break point for a 5-3 lead and took the opener with an ace.
Wawrinka, who has made the semi-finals on his debut appearance at the season-ending showpiece, hung on grimly in the second set after dropping serve but Djokovic was clinical as he stretched his winning streak to 21 matches.
In the first semi-final Nadal beat Wawrinka’s fellow Swiss Roger Federer 7-5 6-3.
Djokovic, who like Nadal had a 100 percent record in round robin play, will be desperate to retain his title after ceding the world number one ranking to the relentless Spaniard in October.
“We are both having a great season this year. This is probably the best possible final we have here in London. We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Djokovic, who was rock solid against tournament debutant Wawrinka, told a news conference.
“This is probably the most competitive tournament that we have after grand slams in our sport, and we both want to end this season in the best possible way and end it with a title.”
Wawrinka, who twice pushed Djokovic to five-sets in the year’s standout matches at the Australian and U.S. Opens, held on grimly in the second set but could only applaud at one point as Djokovic somehow reached a certain winner and clawed a forehand across the bows of the in-rushing Swiss.
Two breaks in the second set completed the Djokovic masterclass and a 14th consecutive win over Wawrinka.
“I didn’t have enough energy today…against him, that makes a big difference,” Wawrinka said.
Earlier, Roger Federer slid his racket into his bag and walked off into the shadows of London’s o2 Arena on Sunday as his leanest season since 2001 came to a rather predictable end at the hands of Rafa Nadal.
The 32-year-old’s 7-5 6-3 defeat in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals ended his hopes of winning the title for a seventh time and with his ranking now on the slide there is no telling if he will ever return at the season-ender.
Federer, who has spent a record 302 weeks as world No.1 during his glittering career, preferred to look at the positives after his 22nd career defeat by Nadal.
The Swiss 17-times grand slam champion pointed to his strong finish to a disappointing year, with a final in Basel followed by a semi-final run at the Paris Masters and wins over world No.5 Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet in London.
He also pushed Novak Djokovic hard in Paris where he was a set and a break up and also here this week while on Sunday against Nadal he matched the Spaniard for the first 10 games.
The statistics are beginning to stack up against him, however, and inevitable questions are being raised about Federer’s prospects for 2014.
His one title this year was on grass at Halle.
At Wimbledon, as defending champion, his proud record of reaching at least the quarter-finals at 36 consecutive grand slams ended in the second round, almost unthinkably, against 116th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky.

-With The News Today input

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