By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - David Ferrer won the first match he played against fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in 2004 and got the better of him again three days before their clash at the ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday.
In between, Nadal has prevailed 20 times and normal service was resumed on Tuesday as Nadal made up for his shock defeat by Ferrer at the Paris Masters to thump the world number three 6-3 6-2 in little more than an hour.
The 27-year-old world number one did not even have to be anywhere near his best as Ferrer capitulated in a display littered with 33 unforced errors and half the points Nadal took to begin his Group A schedule with a victory.
No wonder Nadal was not too concerned about having to face Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 24 hours later at the 02 Arena - a setting Nadal describes as one of his favorites.
"Physically it's no problem, I didn't have a very demanding match today," Nadal, who needs one more win here to confirm the year-end number one ranking, told reporters. "I'll be 100 percent for tomorrow physically."
Nadal missed the London showpiece last year while he recovered from a left knee condition that sidelined him for seven months and the tournament has never been a happy hunting ground for the Mallorcan who has yet to win it.
On Monday, he called for the ATP to vary the surfaces on which the finals are played, saying claycourt specialists were at a disadvantage.
However, after a remarkable year in which he has won 10 titles since returning in February, it would not be a surprise if Nadal claimed the only big prize missing from his impressive CV.
"For some reasons you have places that the conditions are a little bit worse for you," Nadal said. "But every time I am able to play in the World Tour Finals it is a special feeling.
"It's a positive start for me and I'm going to try and play a good match tomorrow and create another chance to be in the semi-finals again."
The two players swapped early breaks of serve before Nadal took charge of the first set, winning 12 of 13 points at one stage to knock the stuffing out of Ferrer.
Ferrer held on grimly to snatch two games from 5-0 down in the second set but he succumbed meekly when he dragged a forehand into the net on Nadal's second match point.
"It was not a good day," said the 31-year-old French Open runner-up, who played the Bercy final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday. "I didn't have a good feeling.
"I was not good in my fitness, my mentality, my shots.
Another loss against Tomas Berdych on Wednesday would mean Ferrer was unlikely to reach the semi-finals but there is still something left in the tank of the ferocious competitor.
"I had a bad day but it's good that it's round-robin because I have one more chance tomorrow. I think I will play better than today. I think so; I hope so."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)