On the bright side there were a record two Serbians playing on the same day at the elite ATP Finals in London. Too bad they both lost.
Andy Murray’s stand-in Janko Tipsarevic was up first, and despite a valiant effort the undersized Tipsarevic came up just inches short of pulling off huge a victory over Tomas Berdych.
In the end it was Berdych in a thriller 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6).
Tipsarevic held a match point on his serve at 6-5 in that final set breaker but pushed a volley that landed out just by inches. Janko followed up by double faulting giving Berdych matchpoint which he secured when his opponent slipped and fell.
“If I have [that] chance one more time, I would still take that ball early and go to the net and play the volley,” admitted Tipsarevic. “So I am not honestly at all disappointed because of the way I played on the match point.
“I am [annoyed] about myself that I managed to make my first double fault at 6 all in the tie-break and that I completely managed to put Berdych back in the match. He wasn’t playing great at the beginning, maybe because of the influence and lack of confidence that he got from losing to Djokovic with the match point up.”
For Berdych, it was a nice turnaround from losing to Janko’s countryman, Novak Djokovic, in a third set breaker on Monday.
“I was a bit unlucky on Monday,” said Berdych. “I got luckier here. So one-all. Before the tie-break, I was feeling pretty good, I would say pretty confident. [The] last few games that I was serving was kind of quick [and] easy. But as long the tie-break went, it was really close.”
In the late match, it was a second shocker in as many days as top seed Djokovic win dusted by David Ferrer 6-3, 6-1. The match really wasn’t even that close as the wall-like Ferrer simply dominated a lackluster Djokovic.
“All the credit to [Ferrer], he played great match,” said Djokovic. “It was the worst match I’ve played this season so far definitely. So many unforced errors. I’m not playing well – that’s a fact.
“At this level you know that you have to deliver your best tennis. I wasn’t on my best in the first match [against Tomas Berdych], but I managed to kind of get into the rhythm in the second set. This match, I have no words to explain. Nothing was going really [for me]. Nothing was going well.”
No Novak, you are not well playing well. You really haven’t since the US Open and bad shoulder or not, I have to wonder if your magical hot streak is officially over. That is, forget repeating what you did this year in 2012.
Ferrer’s win puts him into the semifinals on Saturday. And he’s now easily beaten Murray and Djokovic on a court few thought he would succeed on. You have to give the guy credit.
“I am very motivated,” said Ferrer. “I am in the semi-finals. I want to enjoy this moment. I don’t want to think about the semi-final on Saturday.
“I think maybe today was my best match of the season. I felt good before the match. Maybe the key was in my serve. The last times against Nole, I haven’t served really good.”
So Djokovic plays his worst match of the season, Ferrer his best? Can it be that simple?
The loss for Novak also puts his semifinal bid out of his hands. He must beat his buddy Tipsarevic on Friday and hope either Berdych loses or Berdych loses a greater number of sets than Djokovic.
And for those of us hoping for a Federer-Djokovic final, that’s over. Federer has already won his group while the best Djokovic can do is finish second in his. So Federer would play Djokovic if Novak makes the semifinals.
Speaking of Federer, tomorrow he’ll play Mardy Fish. While Federer’s semifinal spot is assured he’ll need the extra ranking points a win over Fish would give him to pass Murray for the No. 3 ranking on Sunday before the final. Of course he could lose to Fish, then win the title and pass Murray as well.
In the significant match, JW Tsonga faces Rafael Nadal with a winner-take-all semifinal spot on the line. And with David Ferrer the likely opponent on Saturday what a opportunity!
Given the way Nadal’s played, the surface and what’s ahead – the Davis Cup final – I think Tsonga finishes Nadal’s hopes. Nadal barely beat Fish on Sunday, then got wiped clean by Federer on Tuesday. I know he’ll want to put on a better show tomorrow and he leads the Frenchman 6-2, but I think Tsonga is just the better player right now. He played well against Federer in his opener and then handily took care of business with Fish.
“I know him, he knows me,” assessed Nadal of JW. “We played a lot of matches against each other. He’s an explosive player, an aggressive one. I know that I have to play aggressive, I have to play long. If I play short, will be very difficult. I have to be solid with my serve. If not, is impossible, because to have breaks against him is always a really difficult thing.”
Tennis Channel’s singles coverage starts at 9am ET with Federer-Fish. First ball of Tsonga-Nadal is at 3pm ET.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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