The groups (current world rankings in brackets)-
Stan Smith Group: Novak Djokovic (1), Roger Federer (3), Tomas Berdych (6), Kei Nishikori (8).
Ilie Nastase Group: Andy Murray (2), Stan Wawrinka (4), Rafael Nadal (5), David Ferrer (7).
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both topped their respective groups with an all-win record. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka go through to the semi-finals too as the lucky losers from the round-robin format.
Federer got the better of World No. 1 and three-times defending champion Novak Djokovic in a straight set 7-5, 6-2 win. The struggling story of the season, Rafael Nadal, too kept on his recent surge in form by claiming an easy 6-4, 6-1 victory over the second-seed Andy Murray. Nadal will face Djokovic in semi-final.
Djokovic, who went into the tournament as hot favourite suffered a shock loss to six-time champion Federer. In the post match presentation, the Serb ignited a little storm by claiming that he gifted the win to Federer. The Swiss maestro, the 17 times Grand Slam champion, too returned very well questioning the strange tactics adopted by the Djoker in the first set. With that, Federer halted a few unbeaten streaks of Djokovic like in the context of the tournament (16 matches) and overall (23 matches) since his loss at the Cincinnati final to Federer. And also with this win, Federer maintained a positive head-to-head (22-21) against his nemesis in which he has not trailed ever in course of their decade-long rivalry.
In the final round-robin match, Wawrinka cut short of World No. 2 Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-4 in a virtual quarter-final match to face his countrymen Federer in the semi-final. It would be a quite a re-match of last year’s semi-final when there was a bit of an exchange between the two Swiss, who also represent the country in doubles in the Davis Cup and the gold medalist in the Beijing Olympics 2008. Federer was defeated only thrice by Wawrinka in 20 meetings, all in clay. Hence, Federer goes in as favourite and Wawrinka has to play out of his skins to derail Fed-Express.
Djokovic meanwhile packed out Berdych 6-3, 7-5 in his final group match. He will face the resurgent Nadal for their 46th encounter (an Open Era record which Nadal leads 23-22). Nadal has won only once in their last 8 meetings. In hardcourts, Djokovic runs supreme with 15-7 record, but a tight 3-2 indoor. In all probability, the best man on the day would win this one and the situation gets more interesting as Rafa looks resurgent and Nole a bit shaky.
Semi-final line up:
- Rafael Nadal (5) v Novak Djokovic (1) – Nadal leads 23-22 in H2H.
- Roger Federer (3) v Stan Wawrinka (4) – Federer leads 17-3 in H2H.
Who do you think is going to win the tournament? Let us know in the comments below!