The big marquee showdown of the ATP Finals round-robin will be settled Tuesday as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal renew their rivalry for a 26th time.
Their London meeting is the first since the French Open final, won by Nadal, and fourth of the year (Nadal leads 3-0).
Though both guys seems to be going in different directions in recent weeks. While Federer rides a 13-match win streak off of titles in Basel and Paris, Nadal struggled with a stomach bug in a tight Sunday win over Mardy Fish, that after a shoulder issue a few weeks ago.
Nadal also has huge Davis Cup final next month which has to weigh more on his mind the London event. Priorities, priorities.
Still Rafa leads Roger 17-8 and regardless of how much his stomach bug may have drained him, he’ll show up against Federer. But I got to go against him and take the Swiss.
Roger also went three sets on Sunday in a win over JW Tsonga, but coming into this match Federer is simply the more in-form and fresher player. Plus, he beat Nadal on this same, low bouncing court a year ago. So edge goes to Federer.
The two Sunday losers, Tsonga and Fish, meet earlier in the day to stay alive in the tournament. Fish looked good on Sunday as did Tsonga. So it’s a tough, even match-up. But I’ll give a slight edge to Tsonga.
As for today, we nearly had two upsets, instead just one. Andy Murray disappointed the locals in a 6-4, 7-5 surprise loss to David Ferrer. Afterward he dropped a bigger bomb revealing he’s carrying a groin strain which could force him out of the tournament as early as tomorrow.
Murray’s been so sharp this fall it would be a pity for his 2011 season to end this way. Maybe he needs to get more in tune with proper scheduling in the future.
In the second match of the day, like Federer and Nadal, Novak Djokovic endured his own epic three-setter saving a match point in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Tomas Berdych.
Credit to Djokovic for hanging around long enough to let Berdych implode, and that’s what he did. The big Czech held a break lead in the third but simply couldn’t keep his head together and Novak took advantage.
“It was the toughest match probably since the US Open,” said Djokovic. “I mean, I wasn’t very satisfied with my performance tonight. I know I wasn’t playing on top of my game. But a win is a win in the end.
“I knew that my opponent tonight is an unpredictable player, who has a powerful groundstrokes and great serve. If he’s on, if he feels the ball well, it’s difficult to compete with him. That’s what happened. I think he made pressure, a lot of pressure, on my serve, especially the second serve. He was stepping in. I went back. I was too passive.”
The better news for Djokovic was the shoulder didn’t seem to be a problem. And with Murray now a question mark and Ferrer the only other obstacle, Djokovic should coast from here.
As for Berdych, it was a crushing defeat.
“I’m feeling really disappointed,” said Berdych. “I had a match point, I had a break up in the third set, and I did something on the match point which I couldn’t change now.
“I don’t know what I can take positive from this game. I mean, probably could be something. But the first thing is definitely going to be start to forget it as quickly as possible as I can and be ready for Wednesday.”
Matches again are on Tennis Channel at 9am ET with Fish-Tsonga. Nadal v. Federer goes off at 3pm ET.
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