ATP World Tour Finals: Rafael Nadal downs Roger Federer in straight sets
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 10/11/13 10:01pm
Rafael Nadal swept into the final of the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals after powering past Roger Federer 7-5 6-3.
The Spaniard's 22nd win in 32 meetings with Federer put the world No 1 into Monday's final against Novak Djokovic.
Nadal, who returned from a serious knee injury by winning the French and US Opens, as well as eight other titles, en route to securing the first place in the year-end rankings, is now into his 14th final of a remarkable year.
Both players made a blistering start in front of a jam-packed pro-Federer crowd at London's O2 Arena.
Sixth-seeded Federer failed to make the most of three break point chances in the sixth game and Nadal made him pay by stepping into a 5-4 lead.
But the 32-year-old Swiss maestro conjured up a fabulous forehand winner to end a sensational 30-shot rally to move 40-15 up, before an unforced error from Nadal gifted him the immediate break back.
The match had lit the blue touch paper by now with the extended, aggressive rallies causing former world No 1 Federer to struggle from the back of the court.
And the pendulum swung back the way of the Spaniard with a third break in as many games, which the beefy left-handed Mallorcan followed up with an impeccable love game to seal the set in style.
Federer, who had won all four of his indoor clashes with Nadal, including the 2010 final at the O2 Arena heading in today's clash, was starting to feel rather deflated following his long three-set battle against Argentine fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.
The six-time Tour Finals champion was broken for the third time in the contest to fall 3-2 behind in the second set.
And when Nadal put pressure on Federer again in the fifth game of the second set the 17-time Grand Slam champion wilted once more.
This time a tame forehand into the net conceded the break, and Nadal took victory on his first match point when a Federer volley drifted long.
Nadal now leads their head-to-head 22-10 and he has won 14 of their last 18 matches, including all four this year.
He will face Djokovic - who beat Stan Wawrinka 6-3 6-3 in his semi - in Monday's mouth-watering final.
Watch the singles and doubles finals from the O2 on Sky Sports 3. Coverage begins at 6pm on Monday evening.