Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have booked their spots in the last four after both recorded comprehensive upset wins over top ranked Novak Djokovic and the second ranked Andy Murray, respectively, in the second group match of the round robin format.
There were also good wins for Stanislas Wawrinka as he evened his head to head record to seven wins apiece against the Spaniard David Ferrer with a straight set win, while Kei Nishikori rebounded in style after his heavy defeat in the first match as he outlasted Tomas Berdych in three sets in the only match to have gone the distance in four days.
In the Stan Smith group on Tuesday, Kei Nishikori opened up the proceedings with a 7-5,3-6,6-3 win over the Czech Berdych and kept alive his hopes for qualifying in the last four. Next up he faces Roger Federer in what will be a do or die match for the eighth ranked player from Japan.
In the most eagerly awaited match up for the day Swiss maestro Roger Federer put in a brilliant exhibition of tennis to halt Novak Djokovic’s run of 23 consecutive wins with a 7-5,6-2 win in the evening session.
Federer reeled off four consecutive games twice in the match, first at 5-5 in the first stanza and then at 2-2 in the second, just after the top ranked Serb broke for the only time in the match. Federer trails 3-4 against Djokovic in 2015 but leads their head to head at 22-21.
In the Ilie Nastase group, a resurgent Rafael Nadal took complete control of his match against Scotland’s Andy Murray after the two were locked at 4-4 in the first set. Nadal broke in the tenth game of the first set which lasted 57 minutes, and then produced the best tennis of the year as he recorded a 6-4,6-1 win.
He improved to 2-0 in the group while Murray is 1-1. One more win for the Scot or a loss in any of the match Federer plays in this tournament would ensure that the Scot would finish the year ranked two; the best finish to the year.
In the last match on Wednesday, the Swiss number four and the French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka rallied after trailing 3-5 to the Spaniard David Ferrer who did not help his cause with a double fault at set point.
Wawrinka reeled off four games in a row and like his countryman Federer recorded an identical 7-5,6-2 win. That win ensured Rafael Nadal’s passage into last four as well as his top position in the group. The win also meant Wawrinka will play Murray in a virtual quarter-final on Friday.
Here is the line up for the third round of matches with my pick mentioned first :-
Stan Smith group :-
Roger Federer (3) v. Kei Nishikori (8); Federer leads 3-2
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Tomas Berdych (6) ; Djokovic leads 20-2
Ilie Nastase group :-
Rafael Nadal (5) v. David Ferrer (7); Nadal leads 23-6
Stanislas Wawrinka (4) v. Andy Murray (2); Murray leads 8-6
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]