No wonder Rafael Nadal did a joyful jig, punching the air in delight. Not only did a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Stanislas Wawrinka at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals secure his place in the semi-finals but it also ensured that he would end the year as world No 1.
While Novak Djokovic's response to losing the US Open final to Nadal has been admirable – he has since won all 18 matches he has played – it would surely have been an injustice if he had overtaken the Spaniard in the season's finishing straight. This has been Nadal's year, from the moment he came back in February after seven months out with injury.
"After everything that happened last year, I felt I deserved to be there at the end of the season," Nadal said after the close triumph over Wawrinka. "Coming back to world No 1 after three seasons was one of the best things I did in my career."
Nadal has won 10 titles in 2013 and who would bet against him adding another here? The year-end championships is the biggest jewel missing from his crown and the tournament is clearly a major target.
Wawrinka, who is making his debut in this event, won more points than Nadal (83 to 80) but left the court still having failed to win a set in their 12 meetings. If the world No 8 tightened up at crucial moments, he also showed great resilience in fighting back from a break down in both sets.
In the first Wawrinka broke back when Nadal served at 5-4, but lost the tie-break. In the second Wawrinka fought back from 4-1 down, had a set point at 6-5 in the tie-break but lost the next three points. The Swiss, who can still make the semi-finals, faces a concluding round-robin match against David Ferrer, who was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Tomas Berdych.
Nadal was given a warning for on-court coaching by his uncle, Toni, and Wawrinka complained afterwards that he should have been further punished. "Before every point [Toni] was trying to coach him," Wawrinka said.
After his victory Nadal added his voice to Djokovic's criticisms of the sport's drug-testing programme in the wake of Viktor Troicki's 12-month ban for missing a blood test. Troicki claims a tournament anti-doping officer had told him he could return the following day for the test because he was feeling unwell. The former world No 12 did the test 24 hours later and the result was negative.
Djokovic said he had lost faith in the testing system, while Nadal said he believed 100 per cent in Troicki. "I think the thing that [shows] the doctor was wrong is Viktor making the [doping] control the next day," Nadal said. "That proves that the doctor gave him the [chance to do the test] the [next] day. But in the end [Viktor] knows that he has to do the control when the authorities require it, so it was a big mistake."
Andy Murray has announced changes in his business team. The Lagardère Group have been appointed as commercial consultants by 77, the Scot's management company. Mahesh Bhupathi, who has been working with Murray for the last seven months, is leaving to pursue other interests.