Beaten Wawrinka takes it to Nadal, on and off court

Wed Nov 6, 2013 2:44pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - He won 83 points to Rafael Nadal's 80, hit 30 winners to the Spaniard's 14, struck more aces and generally played the more inspiring tennis, yet it all ended in familiar fashion for Stanislas Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old came close to beating the world number one for the first time in 12 attempts, losing 7-6(5) 7-6(6) in the most enthralling contest of the season-ending tournament so far.

If there was any consolation after losing his 26th consecutive set to the Spaniard, it was that it was his best display against Nadal, and his challenge is far from over.

Should he beat David Ferrer in his final Group A match on Friday he can still reach the semi-finals on his first appearance in the elite field - and could even set up another chance to end his Nadal hoodoo here at the O2.

Wawrinka has come a long way this year from the talented but inconsistent player of old, scoring eight wins against top-10 opponents - the third-best total on the ATP Tour - and reaching his first grand slam semi-final at the U.S. Open, where he pushed Novak Djokovic into a fifth set.

There is a swagger about the man they call "Stan", and he even had the confidence to have a dig at Nadal afterwards, saying the umpire had failed to stop the Mallorcan receiving coaching from his uncle Toni.

"It's nothing personal against Rafa or against Toni, we know that Toni is always trying to help Rafa," Wawrinka told reporters. "That's normal. That's part of the game. But when it's too much, it's too much.

"Today I didn't agree with the umpire that he didn't tell him something or he didn't give him a second warning just because it was Rafa. We all see. I was there. Before every point, he was trying to coach him."   Continued...

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland hits a return during his men's singles tennis match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett