The 2013 ATP World Tour Finals continue on Wednesday with two pivotal singles matches in Group A, headlined by Day 3's afternoon session between Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka, which the world No. 1 won in thrilling fashion.
BBC Sport noted Nadal's victory on Twitter:
With the straight-sets victory, Nadal clinches the year-end No. 1 ranking for the third time in his career and guarantees himself a spot in this weekend's semifinals.
Day 3's prime-time singles clash will pit world No. 3 David Ferrer up against Tomas Berdych in a must-have match for both players.
With the day's early action in the books, let's get you up to speed on the latest results from London.
|Group A - (1) Rafael Nadal def. (7) Stanislas Wawrinka||7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6)|
|Group A - (3) David Ferrer vs. (5) Tomas Berdych||3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. GMT|
|Group B - (6) David Marrero/Fernando Verdasco def. (7) Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek||6-4, 7-6 (7-5)|
|Group B - (2) Alexander Peya/Bruno Soares def. (4) Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez||3-6, 6-4, 10-5|
Rafael Nadal Turns Away Stanislas Wawrinka in Straight Sets
It wasn't nearly as easy as Tuesday's rout of Ferrer, but Nadal picked up his second straight-sets win in Group A on Wednesday to secure the No. 1 ranking as well as a berth in this weekend's semifinals.
Momentum went back and forth in the opening set as each player was able to earn a break. Although Wawrinka began to hit his stride late in the first set, winning three consecutive games to turn a 3-5 deficit into a 6-5 advantage, Nadal wasn't rattled. He recovered to level the set and force a tiebreak.
The close-knit theme continued in the breaker as the two competitors split the first 10 points. But after taking a 6-5 advantage, Nadal finished the set with a tremendous defensive effort, per USA Today's Douglas Robson:
Nadal gets out of topsy-turvy breaker with some great defense at the end (and a stumble from Stan) 7-6 (5). #finalshowdown— Douglas Robson (@dougrobson) November 6, 2013
The first-set statistics from TennisTV on Twitter showed how well both players served at the start, but also pointed to an alarming number of unforced errors by Wawrinka:
In the second set, Wawrinka's frustration boiled over the net as he complained about noise coming from Nadal's camp in the crowd. Rafa would apologize during a break in play, but it was clear at that point that Wawrinka had lost focus.
Nadal broke him shortly after and went up 4-1 before Wawrinka found an extra gear.
After holding serve in the sixth game of the set to preserve the match, Wawrinka broke Nadal in the next game to get back on pace. Neither player would give an inch the rest of the way, though, as Wawrinka held serve for the fifth time in the frame to force another tiebreak.
Rafa was again up to the task in the extra session, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead after some sloppy play and poor decision-making from Wawrinka. Despite a mini run from the Swiss underdog, Nadal was able to close out the tiebreak with ease as Wawrinka buried his final chances into the net.
The final match stats point to Wawrinka's aggressive game plan, which Nadal was able to exploit in the end:
Next, Rafa will play Tomas Berdych later in the week but is already assured a spot in Sunday's semifinals.
Meanwhile, Wawrinka will gear up for an important match against Ferrer in his round-robin finale.
Tomas Berdych Cruises to Straight-Set Victory over David Ferrer
Tomas Berdych took one step closer to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over David Ferrer on Wednesday, via the BBC's Piers Newbery.
Berdych beats Ferrer 6-4 6-4, first serve impressive. Nadal next, probably due a win after losing the last 15 over seven years. #bbctennis— Piers Newbery (@piersnewbery) November 6, 2013
Here's a look at the final stats, courtesy of TennisTV.
It's surprising that Berdych finished with one more double fault and 13 more unforced errors, yet still won. But when you're serving as well as the Czech was, you leave yourself some room for error.
Berdych won an astounding 29 of his 30 points on first serve. That's an absolutely crazy number, considering the quality of Ferrer. Berdych was only able to win 12-of-22 points on his second serve, but he never allowed his opponent a single break-point opportunity.
Ferrer ended up saving seven of his nine break points, but when you're opponent doesn't give you any, those two points end up being the decider in the match.
Of course, a serve alone isn't enough to win you a match. Berdych was having a lot of success with his forehand. He worked the angles well, especially toward Ferrer's forehand.
Both sets were essentially carbon copies of one another.
The service break in the each set came in the ninth game to put the Czech up 5-4. Slowly but surely, he was chipping away at Ferrer, and the Spaniard finally broke close to the end of each set, leaving himself little way back into the match.
Who advances to the semifinals?
Berdych used the perfect blueprint in order to pick up the win.
When you're going up against somebody like Ferrer, who can run for days, you've just got to keep making him go back and forth on the baseline. That's exactly what Berdych was able to do.
Even somebody like Ferrer is going to tire out, and when he continuously sees all his work yield few results, his resolve is going to be broken.
With the victory, Berdych atoned for his loss to Wawrinka. Both players have 1-1 records, so the door is still open for the Czech star to advance. He'll need some help from Ferrer, though, who's already out of contention having lost to Nadal in his first match.
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