London - Rafael Nadal has won the latest instalment of his epic rivalry with Roger
Federer as the Spaniard swept into the final of the ATP World Tour
Finals with a 7-5, 6-3 victory on Sunday.
Nadal was in commanding
form in the last four showdown at London's O2 Arena and his 22nd win in
32 meetings with Federer booked the world number one's place in Monday's
final against either Novak Djokovic or Stanislas Wawrinka.
there was nothing routine about Nadal's latest show of force against
Federer as it marked the first time he had ever beaten the Swiss great
indoors after four defeats, including a loss in the 2010 final of the
That was the 27-year-old's only previous appearance
in the final of this prestigious season-ending event, but he looks in
the mood to finally end his long wait to lift the trophy after halting
Federer's remarkable run of success in the tournament in just 79
Federer, a six-time winner of the event, had reached the last three finals, winning twice before losing to Djokovic last year.
this has been Nadal's year and the 13-time Grand Slam winner, who has
also won Olympic gold and the Davis Cup, is now just one more victory
away from finishing a glorious campaign by adding the last major prize
missing from his glittering CV.
"It's the perfect way to finish the season, probably one of the best seasons of my career," Nadal said.
"This is a special tournament but I have lost here before and not had the most luck, so it's great to be in the final."
added: "I just struggled to stay consistent enough throughout the match
and that's why he deserved to win. He was better today.
unbelievable that he gets away with playing so far back indoors these
days, but that's the conditions. So credit to him for making that work
Nadal has now reached 14 finals since his return from
seven months out with knee tendinitis, winning 10 titles including the
French and US Opens.
But, while Nadal has thrived over the last 11
months, Federer has endured arguably the worst season of his career,
dropping to seventh in the world, winning just one title and failing to
reach a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002.
tight opening to the first set, Federer had Nadal under pressure in the
sixth game, but his failure to push home his advantage proved the
decisive moment of the match.
Federer had a break point on three
occasions and twice Nadal was able to hit his way out of trouble before
the Swiss star missed with a wild and wayward forehand.
It was the
kind of mistake, caused by a desperate desire to create a winner from
nothing, that Nadal so often provokes in Federer.
doubled the frustration for Federer, breaking for a 5-4 lead when yet
another top-spin bullet from the baseline flashed past the Swiss star's
Both players were mixing some breathtaking play with occasional sloppy play and the result was a rollercoaster end to the set.
When Nadal tried to close out the set, Federer pushed the Spaniard out of his comfort zone and broke back.
But, not for the first time in his troubled season, Federer lost his composure at the crucial moment and Nadal broke again.
the chance to serve out the set for a second time, Nadal delivered in
ruthless fashion, crashing a series of winners to take the game without
dropping a point.
Federer couldn't make any impact on Nadal's
serve in the second set and the match started to slip from his grasp
when the Spaniard punished another sloppy game from the Swiss to break
for a 3-2 lead.
That was all the incentive Nadal needed to race to
the finish line and, with Federer's unforced error total climbing to
32, it wasn't long before the Spaniard was punching the air in