Sublime Djokovic crushes Nadal to reach final in London

Reuters News
|
Posted: Nov 21, 2015 2:54 PM

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic turned on the style to outclass old adversary Rafael Nadal and reach the final of the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3 6-3 victory at the 02 Arena on Saturday.

Spaniard Nadal had looked more like his old dominant self with round-robin wins against Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka and David Ferrer, but the world number five was no match for Djokovic who was at his clinical best.

The Serb faces Roger Federer or Wawrinka in Sunday's final.

World number one Djokovic has now drawn level with Nadal for the first time in what is the most prolific rivalry since tennis turned professional. Both players have 23 victories.

"Obviously, after 46 matches and 10 years of professional tennis, I managed to tie my head-to-head score with Nadal," Djokovic told reporters. "It took a lot of time.

"I think I was a few levels under him at the beginning of my career when I started playing professional tennis. Nadal was alongside Federer dominating the tour. I just couldn't really do much against him."

"I won the last, what, three times we played against each other (than Saturday). That all plays a major role in the mental approach to these match-ups."

Djokovic, who is bidding for a fourth consecutive title at the season-ender, and a fifth in total, made his intentions clear from the start on Saturday.

The 28-year-old launched an early onslaught, breaking Nadal's serve in the second game of the match with four sweetly-struck winners that fifth-ranked Nadal could only watch whiz by.

From then on he was barely troubled by the 14-times grand slam champion who could make little impression and did not glimpse a single break point in the 79-minute encounter.

"ALMOST UNBEATABLE"

"Novak for the moment is almost unbeatable," Nadal told reporters. "He was better than me and he deserved to do what he did during the whole season.

"He played just fantastic. When somebody's doing like this, just the only thing I can do is congratulate him and just wish not the best of luck for the next year!"

Djokovic, who would have claimed a rare calendar-year grand slam this year but for a French Open final defeat by Swiss Wawrinka, suffered a first indoor defeat in 3-1/2 years against Federer this week.

He responded by beating Czech Tomas Berdych to secure a semi-final berth in London and was back at full throttle against Nadal, crunching 24 winners and dropping just three points on his first serve.

Some trademark defense, followed by a dipping backhand that forced a Nadal volley error, gave the Serbian two break points in the fifth game of the second set and he converted after Nadal succumbed in a fierce baseline rally.

There was no way back from there for Nadal.

Djokovic was clearly in a hurry to finish the job, breaking again at 5-3 with another flurry of winners.

(Editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris)