The Spaniard charged into the contest when a hawk-eye decision created a stir, defeating Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 6-1 in his final Group A match of the ATP World Tour finals. Qualifying at the top of the group, Nadal will take on Andy Murray in Saturday's semi-final.
Murray, who looked wobbly in his match against Roger Federer, made a strong comeback in front of his home crowd on Thursday night to beat Spain's David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2.
Though Nadal enjoyed an 8-3 lead over Berdych before going into this match, the Czech, with his ability to rip the groundstrokes was going to be difficult to overwhelm. And put under the spotlight of the indoor O2 arena, the two players produced some combative tennis. Berdych, who made the finals of Wimbledon this year, is fearless and has the fire to singe any opponent.
It's a point either way that can decide in such close clashes. And it did. Berdych won the point, but triggered his loss. At 6-5, Nadal's serve, locked 15-all, a Berdych forehand skimmed the baseline. The linesman called it long, Nadal let the point go. Berdych challenged the call, hawk-eye confirmed it had caught the line. But rather than replaying the point, the chair umpire handed the point to Berdych.
The Spaniard threw a fit of rage, arguing with the umpire, then drawing the referee into the conflict. The decision stood. Now Nadal wouldn't give in. He got through the game and shot into a mighty jump. Having lost the tie-break 7-3, Berdych tried to salvage the situation in the second set, but Nadal was up and running.