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Nadal rips Ferrer apart to exact revenge; Year end No.1 ranking within sight

Anand Datla
FEATURED COLUMNIST
05 Nov 2013, 21:41 IST
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal extracted meaningful vengeance for Saturday’s defeat at the hands of David Ferrer, with a facile 6-3, 6-2 victory in an hour and 14 minutes. The victory takes Nadal ever closer to sealing the Emirates ATP World Tour No.1 award to cap a spectacular return from injury. The winner of the Comeback Player of the Year award winner only needs one more match victory to ensure he squeezes Novak Djokovic out of this edgy contest between the two gladiators. It was a disappointing performance from Ferrer, who promised so much on the back of his run to the finals in Paris last week.

Nadal was helped to a handy start, when Ferrer made a hattrick of errors – two off his forehand and one off the backhand to surrender a break in the very first game of the match. But Nadal gifted the advantage straight back – offering break point in the next game with a forehand that sailed an inch beyond the baseline. Ferrer made it stick, striking a powerful forehand to force the error off Nadal, who was scrambling for it at the net.

Ferrer though dug another hole for himself when he made three straight errors off an inconsistent forehand to be broken a second time in the fifth game of the first set. Unlike their match on Saturday in Paris, Nadal wasn’t dropping anything short thus preventing his opponent from taking charge with his forehand. The fact that Ferrer was struggling for consistency off both flanks was making life easier for Nadal.

A shanked forehand, reminiscent of Roger Federer helped Nadal consolidate the break this time and take a 4-2 lead. Ferrer did hold serve one more time, but Nadal was irrepressible once he had his nose in front. Ferrer was serving to extend the set at 3-5 when Nadal unleashed yet another example of his brutal power and accuracy.

A stunningly impressive forehand up the line winner, on the run and at full stretch, gave him three set points. He needed just one, with Ferrer making his 19 unforced error of the set, this time off the backhand to lose the set in just 34 minutes. The big difference in the set was the winner differential – Nadal’s was -7, while Ferrer’s was -15 almost explaining why he was allowing his opponent to dominate the show.

Nadal solidified his grip over the match when Ferrer made a meal of yet another forehand to offer a break of serve in the second game of the next set. Ferrer pushed Nadal close in the third game, but he let the world No.1 off the hook when he floundered a backhand wide to allow Nadal gain a commanding 3-0 lead.

Ferrer seemed set to avoid a bagel by taking the fourth game, but played some insipid tennis to allow Nadal to pass him at the net and gain yet another break of serve. The world No.3 showed a little residual spirit in striking a couple of return winners in the fifth game and Nadal offered a break point when he sailed a forehand long at 30-30.

Ferrer squandered the break point with a shanked forehand return and Nadal won the next two points to get within a game of an important victory to begin his campaign at London. Ferrer served his first ace of the evening to prolong the game a little longer by finally ensuring that he escaped the embarrassment of suffering the bagel treatment.

Ferrer played a superb stretch volley to earn two break points in the seventh game and lured Nadal to the net to earn an unexpected break in the seventh game. His joy did not last long though as Nadal turned on the pressure in the next game. Ferrer saved the first match point when Nadal landed in the backhand in the net, but offered another opportunity on the very next point.

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Nadal was already held on court longer than seemed due and Ferrer offered a hand by dumping a routine forehand in the net to draw the curtains on an encounter that failed to live up to its promise. Ferrer needed to be at his best to challenge Nadal, but he was anything but that on the day. Surprisingly, he managed to win just 39% of his first serve points allowing Nadal a free hand to break serve six times in the match.

Ferrer was also error prone through the evening – even though Ferrer had 16 winners to only 9 from Nadal, the man from Valencia sprayed the ball on a wild evening to offer 33 unforced errors to just 16 from Nadal to dig his own grave. Nadal’s victory over Ferrer means that Djokovic will need to go 5-0 in London and hope that Nadal loses the remaining two matches in Group A against Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka.

Earlier in the evening, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek enjoyed a winning start to their attempt at winning a maiden title at the year end championships. The Indo-Czech duo ousted Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 to inch closer towards a place in the knock-out stages.

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