Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
Roger Federer has had an interesting year. He reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, the quarterfinals of the French Open, was runner-up in Rome, runner-up in Basel, made a number of final 8 or better showings at Masters 1000 events and won Halle. He now finished second in his World Tour Finals group and faces the world #1 in the semifinal of this event. If Roger Federer’s name were any player ranked outside of the top 6 in the world, we might be talking about a player who could be a real impact player in 2014. For Federer, this has been a clear sign that what used to be his floor is more and more often his ceiling as a tennis player.
Rafael Nadal moves into the semifinal round having dropped only one set and playing at the best level he has reached since the US Open final. He is 0-4 vs. Federer at this event. Indoor tennis allows Federer to win some free points off of serves, prevents Rafa’s topspin from being quite so paralyzing, and Roger’s slice backhand can be an asset on this surface versus his nemesis. Still, Rafa has to be favored. He is #1 and he has controlled their head-to-head meetings even more than usual as of late.
I think Nadal takes care of his serve enough and plays good enough defense to elicit errors to win a tight match.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 7-6, 6-4
Novak Djokovic vs. Stanislas Wawrinka
This is a potential classic if it reaches the heights we saw in Melbourne and New York. Something tells me Novak has done enough to get to this stage and has more in his tank to try to claim his third World Tour Finals title. Stan will have to dictate play and be the aggressor to win. If Stan serves big and hits heavy shots, he can win this match. I don’t think that Novak will let that happen though. Nole served quite well in the third set versus Federer. If Nole holds with relative ease, Stan is in trouble because he is the best return man in the game. Stan has to be the bully to win this match, but the fast surface will likely take pressure off of Novak’s service games.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic d. Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4