ATP World Tour Finals: Rafael Nadal on the march, will finish year top of world rankings
Last Updated: 06/11/13 7:25pm
Rafael Nadal beat Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets to reach the semi-finals of the World Tour Finals.
Rafael Nadal clinched the year-end No.1 ranking and became the first man into the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Finals with a hard-fought win over Stanislas Wawrinka on Wednesday afternoon.
Top seed Nadal, who has never won the season-ending event, saw off Wawrinka 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (8/6) to improve his career record against the Swiss to 12-0, all in straight sets.
Having beaten fellow Spaniard David Ferrer for the loss of just five games in his Group A opener on Tuesday, Nadal is already guaranteed his place in the last four ahead of his final round-robin match against Tomas Berdych on Friday.
Wawrinka, who beat Berdych on Monday, can still join Nadal in the semi-finals; although the equation will become clearer after Berdych's match against Ferrer later on Wednesday.
Nadal earned the first break of the match in the fifth game and had the chance to serve for the set when leading 5-4.
But seventh seed Wawrinka hit back to level at 5-5 and both players then held serve meaning a tie-break was needed.
Nadal edged it 7-5, enjoying a slice of luck on set point when Wawrinka stumbled as he went for a volley.
Wawrinka quickly fell 4-1 behind in the second set but roused himself to get back on serve and force a second tie-break.
Nadal led 4-1, prompting Wawrinka to go for broke and produce a spate of winners to turn things around, even earning a set point at 6-5 ahead.
But Nadal again came up big when it mattered most, reeling off the next three points to complete victory in two hours and 13 minutes.
The result completes an impressive comeback given Nadal only returned in February after seven months out with a knee injury.
He won 10 of his first 13 tournaments back and lifted the French and US Open titles to take his career tally to 13 Grand Slams, third on the all-time list behind Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (17).
The 27-year-old has now finished the year as No.1 on three occasions, 2008, 2010 and 2013.