Rafael Nadal claimed the record-breaking seventh Roland Garros crown in 2012. The Spaniard missed the season's second part due to a left knee injury, finishing outside the top-2 for the first time since 2004 and staying away from the court until February 2013.
In one of the most impressive comebacks, Rafa claimed 75 wins in 83 encounters that year. He lifted ten ATP titles and passed all the rivals to earn the year-end no. 1 award for the first time in three years. Nadal conquered his second US Open title before losing to Novak Djokovic in the Beijing final and the Shanghai and Paris semi-final.
The Spaniard went to London and set his eyes on the first ATP Finals crown. Rafa defeated David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka to top the round-robin standings and set the semi-final clash against Roger Federer. In Group B, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer prevailed in a tight battle with Richard Gasquet and Juan Martin del Potro to reach the last four after ten three-setters in 12 encounters!
Djokovic defeated Stan Wawrinka in the semi-final ahead of the 32nd clash between Rafa and Roger. The Spaniard had the upper hand on November 10 and secured a 7-5, 6-3 triumph in 80 minutes. Thus, he delivered his 22nd victory over the Swiss and the first under a roof, advancing into his second ATP Finals title match.
Roger entered the encounter with a 3-0 lead over Rafa on an indoor surface. He scored victories at this event in 2006, 2007 and 2010, hoping to prove his masterclass in these conditions again. However, Nadal had other plans, fending off three out of four break chances and pushing Roger's second serve to the limits to secure four breaks from as many opportunities.
Rafael Nadal scored his first indoor win over Roger Federer in London 2013.
They had a similar number of winners and forced mistakes. The main difference came in the unforced errors department, where Federer counted over 30.
Nadal served well and had the upper hand in the shortest range up to four strokes. Also, the Spaniard grabbed 17 of the 24 most extended rallies to seal the deal in straight sets and move into the final against Djokovic. Federer held at 15 in the encounter's first game, and Nadal responded with a quick hold at love after an ace for 1-1.
Roger lost three straight points from 40-0 to bring Rafa back to deuce in game three before closing it with two winners. Rafa leveled the score at 2-2 with another hold at love before facing troubles in game six after offering Roger three break chances.
Nadal stayed calm and repelled two with forehand winners. Federer missed the third after a massive forehand error that would cost him dearly. Delivering one good serve after another, the Swiss produced a hold at love to move 4-3 up.
Nadal repeated that a few minutes later to lock the result. Barely winning a point on the return so far, Rafa found a way to steal Roger's serve at 15 in game nine with a forehand winner and forge the advantage. Ready to fight, Federer broke back in the last moment at 4-5 to prolong the set and his chances.
Nonetheless, he netted a forehand in game 11 to push the Spaniard in front again. Rafa made no mistakes this time, landing four winners to seal the set 7-5 after 43 minutes and gathering a massive boost. Nadal placed a backhand down the line winner in the second set's fifth game to earn a break chance.
He seized it after Federer's terrible forehand and cemented the advantage with a comfortable hold that sent him 4-2 ahead. Serving to stay in the match at 3-5, Roger suffered another break to propel Rafa into his second ATP Finals title match, hoping for more against Novak Djokovic.