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Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic set up ATP Finals showdown
Unbeaten in his round-robin matches this week, the second-seeded Djokovic extended his winning streak to 21 matches since losing in the U.S. Open final to Nadal. The two will play for the title Monday.
The world’s two highest-ranked players are unbeaten in London this week and have faced each other five times this season, with Nadal winning three times.
After losing a set in each of his three previous matches, Djokovic raised his game Sunday by making only 14 unforced errors and breaking Wawrinka four times.
“The performance was definitely by far the best I’ve had in the tournament,” said Djokovic, who is bidding for a third title at the elite event and has been the dominant player of the indoor season.
Nadal, who claimed his first win over Federer on an indoor hard court, extended his winning record over Federer to 22-10 and has now beaten the Swiss on every surface. Federer had won their four previous matches at the ATP Finals, dropping only one set.
“The most important thing for me is (that indoor) is the toughest surface for me to play,” Nadal said. “The most difficult for me was to be able to win four matches against top eight players. It’s a very good way to finish the year.”
Chasing his first title at the ATP Finals, Nadal played down the importance of the victory over his greatest rival.
“It is probably one of my best seasons,” said Nadal, who reclaimed the No. 1 spot this year after coming back from a knee injury in February. “The most satisfying thing is always (to win) the tournament more than the personal victories. So for me it is more important to be in the final in the last tournament of the year than to have the chance to win against Roger.”
Since he returned from his seven-month injury layoff, Nadal has produced one of the most impressive comebacks in tennis history. He has won 75 matches — losing only six — and captured 10 titles, including the French Open, the U.S. Open and five Masters events.
Federer’s season was far different. Hampered by a back injury, he won only one title in 2013 and was looking to take this event before the year-end break.
He played aggressively early on but faded after losing the first set, making too many mistakes to threaten Nadal.
“In the beginning, his serve worked very well,” Nadal said. “My feeling is that in the first set, he played very well. He was closer than me to have the break. So in my opinion until 4-all, he was playing better than me.”
By John R. Bolton
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