London: Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka played two of the best matches of 2013, but they couldn’t make it a third on Sunday in London. That is, Wawrinka couldn’t make it a third. The Swiss had performed admirably in his World Tour Final debut, but he was finally unable to rise to the occasion. For most of the day he was missing—with his serves, forehands, backhands, returns, slices, putaways, and just about anything else you might care to mention. Djokovic, with yet another solid performance in a fall that’s been full of them, took advantage of Wawrinka’s 34 unforced errors to advance in distinctly unmemorable fashion, 6-3, 6-3.
Which is kind of a surprise, because at the start this match didn’t look like it was heading in a routine direction. In the third game, Wawrinka fired off two cross-court forehand winners, punctuated them with two big yells, and broke Djokovic with a stinging cross-court volley. The crowd was ready for an upset, and so, it appeared, was Stan. But his momentum, and seemingly his belief, lasted for all of two points. At 15-15 in the next game, Wawrinka threw a 134-M.P.H. serve down the T, but Djokovic reflexed it back almost as fast. Too fast for Wawrinka, anyway, who shanked a forehand roof-ward. Two points later, Stan shanked another ball and was broken.
Djokovic, moving better and hitting more confidently with each game, never looked back. He was content to out-steady an erratic Wawrinka for most of the first set; Djokovic didn’t hit his first winner until the ninth game. In the second set, as Wawrinka struggled with pace and consistency on his serve—he would make just 53 percent of first balls—Djokovic stepped forward and began to look for his forehand more. As he had in his closing sets all week, Nole put the clamps down on his helpless opponent. Djokovic finished with 11 winners and won nine of 12 points at net. The match could have been over faster if he had capitalized on his break points. Djokovic was four of 10 on them for the match, and he allowed Wawrinka to hang around a couple games longer than necessary in the second set.
No matter. Djokovic records his 21st straight win, and 14th straight over Wawrinka. Next up for the world No. 2, fittingly, is a match against the world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, on the final day of the ATP season.