Federer lost to Nadal in the semifinals of London Finals

Top seed Nadal, who lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 final at The O2 in London, beat his greatest rival - a six-time champion at the elite season finale - 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday afternoon to reach his 14th final of a remarkable year.

It was the fifth time that Nadal and Federer had played one another at the season finale. Federer had previously won all four matches - twice in Shanghai (2006-07) and twice in London (2010-11) - at the eight-player championship.

Nadal looked to be making inroads into Federer’s serve as early as the third game, when the Swiss lost three straight points from 40/0. Federer was attempting to keep as close to the baseline as possible, as Nadal targeted his single-handed backhand.

Nadal showed great mental strength at 2-3 when he saved three break points during a game where the forehand striking of both players was exceptional. By contrast Federer’s next service game lasted 68 seconds.

The first of three straight service breaks in the pair’s 32nd meeting came at 4-4, when clever court-craft by Nadal saw him draw Federer to the net in order to strike a forehand winner down the line.

Federer won a 30-stroke rally at 30/30 in the following game, when a powerful forehand beyond Nadal earned him a break point, which he converted when Nadal hit a forehand long.

Nadal bounced back from the set-back, showing great physical strength at 15/40 on Federer’s serve to wrestle back a crosscourt forehand that the sixth seed snatched at to hit a forehand into the net.

"I think Roger played really aggressive, that's my feeling," said Nadal. "At the beginning, his serve worked very well. My feeling is in the first set, he played very well. So in my opinion until 4-4, he was playing better than me.

"I saved a few break points, very important ones, and then I played a good game when I had the break… The key of the match was probably at 5-5, after he had the break back in the first set, when I was serving for the set. I got the break another time to be 6-5 in my favour. That was very important."

At 6-5, Nadal closed out a hold to love with his eighth forehand winner to end the 43-minute set. Federer, who needed to be aggressive struck 11 winners and committed 15 unforced errors in a high-quality opener.

"I went for it when I had a chance for a break point in the first set," said Federer. "Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did. I just struggled to stay consistent enough throughout the match and that's why he deserved to win. He was better today."

In the second set, leading 1-0, Federer missed a mid-court forehand at 30/30 on Nadal’s serve. It was a half chance, but Federer was not quite in position to strike it cleanly.

Federer committed another forehand error in the fifth game to give Nadal the break. At 4-3, Federer missed a mid-court forehand again when Nadal was serving at 30/30.

Nadal tightened up his game and at 5-3, created one match point opportunity at 30/40. Federer serve and volleyed, but Nadal’s backhand return was low enough to get Federer into trouble. He hit a backhand volley long to end the 80-minute encounter.

"He was playing more consistent," said Federer, who ended his season with a 45-17 match record. "He was playing more solid. I just couldn't come up with the shots when I needed them, forehand or serve, moving forward."

Date: 10th November 2013, Source: ATP


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