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By Chris Oddo / Sunday, November 10, 2013

 

Novak Djokovic methodically took down Stan Wawrinka to set up a final clash with Rafael Nadal at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Photo Source: Kieran Galvin/CameraSport

Novak Djokovic can win with precision and power, but he can also win with defense and margin. Today, he chose the latter, putting on an awe-inspiring defensive display to methodically deconstruct Stan Wawrinka, 6-3, 6-3, in the semifinals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

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The victory was the 21st straight for the sizzling Serb, and it sets up a clash between tennis’ top two players in Monday’s final.

Rafael Nadal, who assured himself of closing 2013 with the No. 1 ranking by reaching the semifinals in London, took it one step further by defeating Roger Federer in Sunday’s other semifinal, 7-5, 6-3.

Djokovic and Nadal will meet for the 39th time on Monday, which is the most by any two rivals in the Open Era. Wawrinka entered today’s semifinal having lost 13 consecutive matches to Djokovic, but he would draw first blood when he broke the Serb by knocking off a forehand volley winner for a break of serve and a 2-1 lead in the first set.

But Wawrinka would play a very loose game to hand the break back in the very next game, and the Djokovic defensive clinic would begin shortly thereafter.

Djokovic would rescue a point from the dead with Wawrinka serving at 3-4, 30-40 when he made a stab return of a swing volley that Wawrinka elected to hammer down the middle of the court instead into one of the corners. On the next ball the Serb threw up a lob that forced Wawrinka to backpedal before hitting an overhead, and Djokovic quickly pounced on the shot to take advantage of the point and claim the set’s pivotal break of serve.

It left Wawrinka shaking his head, and he would continue to do so after lofting a backhand slice return on a break point in the next game (it would be his final break point of the match). Two points later, Djokovic would wrap up the opening stanza with an ace.

Djokovic would break easily to open the second set, and he earned break points in Wawrinka’s next two service games, but the Swiss held his ground to keep things close.

But on this day Djokovic, who played patiently, consistently and with lots of margin all afternoon, would not relent. He was solid throughout the 84-minute affair, and brilliant when he had to be in taking down Wawrinka for the 14th consecutive time.

He didn’t face a break point in the second set, winning 16 of 18 service points, and tossed in another break to close out the match in style.

With that, Wawrinka’s long, successful 2013 campaign comes to an end. He closes his best professional season with a 51-23 season which includes a French Open quarterfinal and a U.S. Open semifinal.

"One break isn't enough, especially at the beginning," Wawrinka said. "I had the feeling that I was playing well, but I didn't have enough energy today, and against him that's a big difference." Djokovic improves to 71-9 with the win, and he hasn’t lost since the U.S. Open. He’ll face the last man to beat him, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, on Monday, looking for his tenth consecutive ATP World Tour Finals victory, and short-term bragging rights in tennis’ most intense, compelling rivalry.

"It's going to be a great final," Djokovic said. "I hope all the crowd will enjoy it because we definitely do on the court.”

 

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