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By Chris Oddo | Monday, November 16, 2015

 
Nadal London WTF 2-015

Rafael Nadal worked his way past a desultory Stan Wawrinka in London to join Andy Murray at the top of the Nastase Group on Monday.

Photo Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Early on a London evening there was no espresso to be had for Stan Wawrinka. And there was a surly Spaniard across the net that would not be contained.

More: Murray Rises above Ferrer in Straights

It all added up to a lethargic loss and an energizing win—depending on perspective.

Rafael Nadal continued his quest to finish this topsy-turvy 2015 season on his own confidence-inspiring terms with a 6-3, 6-2 waxing of an all too malleable Wawrinka to join Andy Murray at the top of the Ilie Nastase Group at this year’s World Tour Finals.

The match was the fourth singles match to be played this week in London, and the fourth to be completed in straight sets with very little suspense.

Though Wawrinka went with a whimper he did bristle a bit at the start. The Swiss, who entered the match with a 3-13 lifetime record against Nadal including victories three of their last four meetings, broke at love in the opening game with a wicked crosscourt backhand winner. But Nadal answered immediately, also breaking at love with a nasty offering of his own, a pummeled inside-out forehand that Wawrinka could barely see let alone hit.

From there the pair settled into what many anticipated to be a hearty battle of heavy hitters for several games, but Wawrinka’s fire would soon begin to dissipate. Something seemed to click in the mind of the Swiss after Nadal converted his third break point of the game to take a 5-3 lead in the first set.

Nadal held in the next game to 15 with Wawrinka barely lifting a finger to fight.

In the second set Wawrinka would summon the strength to save seven break points in his first service game to hold for 1-1. Though something of the sort would typically be a momentum changer for him, this time it proved to be the beginning of the end.

After saving one more break point in his next service game, the floodgates opened. Wawrinka double-faulted on the next Nadal break point and a steady stream of one-way traffic ensued.

There would be no espresso. No ALLEZ. No series of jaw-dropping winners that formed a late rally. Instead, only a meek departure and a clear signal that Wawrinka is more than ready to call it a year.

The Swiss tossed in 35 unforced errors and was broken four times in 15 opportunities.

But take no credit from Nadal, who was engaged from start to finish and who displayed quite a bit of punch from the baseline when it was demanded of him. The Spaniard finished with a tidy statline: 18 winners against only 12 unforced and swept aside two of the three break points he faced.

Nadal at the moment is right where he wants to be. In the heat of battle and gaining in form and confidence. He’ll continue his quest for belief on Wednesday as he attempts to win back-to-back matches over Top-5 opponents for the first time all year when he faces Murray.

Notes, Numbers, Tweets

Nadal improves to 14-3 lifetime vs. Wawrinka and 59-19 on the season.

The Spaniard improves to 2-7 vs. top-5 opponents in 2015 with both of those wins coming against Wawrinka.

Nadal, a two-time finalist at the World Tour Finals, improves to 14-11 lifetime in seven career appearances (he missed four times due to injury despite qualifying).

Wawrinka drops to 4-5 lifetime at the World Tour Finals. He was a semifinalist last year, falling to Roger Federer in a dramatic third-set tiebreaker in which he held four match points.






 

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