Nadal a single victory away from end-of-year number one crown

World number one swats aside exhausted Ferrer 6-3, 6-2

Spain's Rafael Nadal asks for a review of a line call during his group A singles match against David Ferrer.
Spain's Rafael Nadal asks for a review of a line call during his group A singles match against David Ferrer.GLYN KIRK (AFP)

Tennis world number one Rafa Nadal crushed David Ferrer in their Group A encounter at London’s 02 Arena, where the eight top-ranked players on the planet are contesting the ATP World Tour Finals.

The Mallorcan required a little over an hour to pick his fellow Spaniard apart, breaking Ferrer six times and returning with venom; Nadal won 80 percent of his first-service points to Ferrer’s 38 percent.

Nadal’s victory takes him to within one win of retaining the number-one spot into 2014. Likewise, Novak Djokovic, who is in Group B with Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet and Juan Martín del Potro, will remain at number two if he loses one match during the entire tournament. Nadal’s next opponent is the flowing Swiss, Stan Wawrinka.

Ferrer got the better of Nadal at the Paris Masters last week and hard courts are his favorite hunting ground when his Davis Cup teammate is on the menu: the world number three beat Nadal on clay in their first-ever meeting in 2004 but since then has only beaten him on a faster surface, and the London court is one that Nadal admitted before the tournament does not make playing his game easy.

But Ferrer, despite a well-earned moniker of the “human wall” does have his limits, and this has been a grueling season. While Nadal has picked and chosen his tournaments after making a return from injury in January, Ferrer has had points to defend, especially at the tail end in Valencia and Paris, where he was defending champion at both events.

Little wonder, then, that the famous scampering recoveries that characterize Ferrer’s game were largely absent as Nadal, who took a good chunk of October off while his opponent pounded the courts of Stockholm and Valencia, bludgeoned his way to victory with consummate ease. The world number one broke in the opening game and although Ferrer replied immediately with a break-back, his resistance was swiftly crushed as Nadal racked up 13 points on Ferrer’s first serve, to just one on the other side of the net.

There was little respite in the second set and although Ferrer fought doggedly in every game, carving out a couple of break-point opportunities himself, there was little he could do to prevent an irresistible Nadal from scoring a 21st career win in their personal head-to-head.

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