LONDON • Novak Djokovic is wary.
The world No. 1 is playing the best tennis of his career. But the Serb fears that may not be enough when he faces his old rival Rafael Nadal in the semi-final of the ATP World Tour Finals today.
The Spaniard slumped to 10th in the world rankings this year after a crisis of confidence and form.
But since a third-round loss at the US Open to Fabio Fognini, he has rediscovered his old spark.
This week at the ATP Finals, he has beaten world No. 4 Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 2 Andy Murray without dropping a set to reach the semi-finals with a match to spare.
Djokovic, 28, trails Nadal 22-23 in career matches but has won all three of their encounters this year - including at the Nadal stronghold, otherwise known as Roland Garros, in the quarter-finals.
The Serb believes the 29-year-old is over his slide.
"It's a fact that he's been playing better and he's been raising his level ever since the US Open," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 7-5 victory over Tomas Berdych at the O2 Arena on Thursday. "You can feel that he's starting to get comfortable on the court, starting to play better.
"The couple of matches he played here against Wawrinka and Murray showed that he feels more confident, shows that he's starting to miss less, serve efficiently, use his forehand much better.
"On the other hand, I played an amazing first match. The last two matches haven't been on the level desired but I still managed to win two and lose one and I'm in the semi-finals.
Djokovic, winner of three Grand Slam titles this year and bidding to win the Tour Finals for a record fourth successive year, is likely to face a stern test of his credentials today from Nadal.
"We have played so many times and even a couple of times on this very court," said Djokovic, who has won seven of his last eight matches against Nadal. "Hopefully, I will be able to play my best. That is what is needed to beat him."
Roger Federer, with 17 Majors, has suffered at the hands of Nadal more than any other player - losing 23 of 34 contests - and reckons the Spaniard can continue his form into next year, providing he stays fit.
"Maybe for his standard, it's not the best season. What is he going to finish, top five? It's still a good season," he said. "Everybody would take that except maybe a few players at this tournament. The rest would all love to be in his shoes.
"With some time to practise and reassess his game, he's going to be tough to beat in Australia (at the new year's first Grand Slam)."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS
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