London Calling: Nadal Triumphs
No. 5-seeded Spaniard claims Group Ilie Nastase opener 6-3, 6-2
No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal got off to a successful start at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Monday, improving to 14-3 against No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka with a 6-3, 6-2 win in his round-robin opener.
It marked their second FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter in less than two weeks, Wawrinka having claimed their quarter-final clash at the BNP Paribas Masters in a pair of tie-break sets 7-6(8), 7-6(7). But this time around it was all Nadal.
It was a nervy start for the Group Ilie Nastase foes. Both players were broken at love to open the first set, each struggling to find traction on their serve. But they eventually settled in, and Nadal would move in front with a break in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead. He would close out the stanza in just under 40 minutes.
Nadal, into the year-end championships for the 11th straight year, carried that momentum into the second set and with a pair of breaks was out to a 5-1 advantage. He would serve out the match two games later in one hour and 22 minutes.
"I think I played a solid match," said Nadal, who registered 18 winners to 12 unforced errors. "I had one bad game, the first one of the match. But then immediately I was playing well. I played the way that I wanted to play. I played aggressive. I played with not many mistakes."
“When something went wrong today, everything went wrong,” said Wawrinka, who amassed 35 unforced errors in the loss. “It was just a really bad day at the office.”
Held title-less in six previous appearances at the year-end championships, Nadal is still seeking his first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals crown. He was a runner-up in 2010 and 2013.
Wawrinka is making his third consecutive appearance at The O2 after reaching the semi-finals the past two years. The 30-year-old has a chance to pass countryman Roger Federer this week and become the year-end No. 1 Swiss for the first time. But to do so, he must advance to his first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals championship match.