So much for the greatest season ever. Novak Djokovic suffered his fourth loss today – one more than John McEnroe had in 1984 – when he fell to Kei Nishikori in a shock semifinal result at the Swiss Indoors in Basel.
After cruising to a first set win, Djokovic received treatment on his right shoulder, the same shoulder that troubled him during the US Open, and that was it. Novak lost the second in the breaker then was listless in devouring a bagel in the third losing to Nishikori 2-6, 7-6, 6-0.
“I changed the technique of my serve a little bit. I was forcing it too much because of the injury I have,” said Djokovic. “I’ve carried it since the US Open and I’m still afraid something is going to happen [with my shoulder]. My rhythm with the serve is not good right now.”
Credit to Nishikori who compiled his biggest win of his career and became the first Japanese man to beat a world No. 1.
“It feels great,” Nishikori said. “I was missing too much in the first set, but at the end of the second set, I started playing well.
And Kei is not done yet, for beating Novak he now gets a shot at Roger Federer on his home court tomorrow.
“I’ve always wanted to play Roger,” he said. “Before the tournament, I was wishing to play him but I was on the other side of the draw and knew I would need to make the final to have a chance to play him. It will be a good challenge for me to play against him.”
Federer returned to the Basel final after defeating good friend and countryman Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 6-2.
“He’s a guy I’ve never played against. My focus will be to remember how he plays,” said Federer of facing Nishikori for a first time. “He beat Novak in the semis, so he’ll have a shot in the final. He has great shots, a quick arm and is a fighter.
“He was injured a lot and wasn’t able to rise in the rankings like he was capable of. But he made the semi-finals in Shanghai and now the final here, so he’s taken advantage of his chances.”
Federer is a robust 28 of his last 29 in Basel with four trophies. And Federer is seeking his first ATP title since Doha at the start of the year.
In Valencia, favorites Juan Martin Del Potro and top seed/defending champion David Ferrer were both upset victims. Del Potro damaged his London hopes falling to Marcel Granollers. Ferrer was sent out by Juan Monaco in three sets. Isn’t that an indoor event? Results tell me it was on clay!
As for big story of the day – Djokovic’s health – if the shoulder is really that inflammed it’s doubtful he’ll play Paris and given the length of time it took him to recover just for Basel (6 weeks), he may not even be ready to go for London, especially with so little on the line.
The last thing Djokovic wants to do is further hurt that shoulder putting the start of 2012 and his Australian Open defense in peril.
Tennis Channel has the Basel Federer final at 9am ET and Valencia at 8pm ET. Don’t forget, set your clocks back!
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