Andy Murray nearly succumbed to the London pressure and the easy power of Tomas Berdych Monday on opening day of the ATP Finals. Murray dropped the first set before storming back on Berdych to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in round robin Group A play.
The big Czech started hot but eventually cooled off allowing Murray back into the match.
“He started to miss a few more first serves, second and third sets when I had my chances,” Murray said. “That sort of helped me get into the point and find a way of being aggressive, using some variety, whereas some of the time in the first set he just completely overpowered me.”
In the windless conditions, Berdych showcased just how dangerous a threat he can be when playing indoors and free from weather issues. But as we often see from him, he also came up just short once again against a big name player.
“I think it was a very, very good and solid match from both of us. Unfortunately there was just, well, small details that just decided today,” 2011 semifinalist Berdych said. “I think the biggest moment was in the second set, 1‑All, that I had that breakpoint. You know, just hit a forehand return, and it was just like small out. And, you know, who knows, it could be 2‑1, early break after winning the first set. You know, there was a pretty good chance. But didn’t happened.”
In second match of Group A, after a tight first set former champion Novak Djokovic dove his way past JW Tsonga 7-6, 6-3.
“The opening set obviously could have gone either way,” said Djokovic. “To be quite honest, he was the better player throughout the first set. I faced many break points, and I didn’t have any in the opening set. I managed to serve well, play well, stay mentally tough, and tried to fight my way through.”
Djokovic twice hit the floor of the O2 Arena in attempt to play balls, but he remained unscathed.
”All those balls were out of my reach, so I tried to dive,’” Djokovic said. ”I don’t usually dive that much. I don’t usually spend that much (time at) the net as well.”
Tsonga drops to a pretty pathetic 1-13 against Top 10 players this year.
Next up for Novak is a critical date with Murray on Wednesday.
“My next match , against Andy, is always a big challenge,” he said. “He had the lots of success in London, playing in his town, in front of his crowd. We know a lot about each other. I’m sure that we’re going to come up with some really good tennis.”
Added Murray on the big showdown with the Serb, “There’s an understanding of how much you have to put into the match to win it. I think that’s just the nature of those matches. Both of us are very good retrievers, so often the points will go on a lot. Sometimes you maybe feel like you need to win the point two or three times, which is tough and can be a little bit tiring. But, I mean, we’ve played each other enough to know what to expect.”
And I still think both guys will get out that deathly Group A.
Group B begins tomorrow with six-time champion Roger Federer against Janko Tipsaravic and David Ferrer meets Juan Martin Del Potro. Obviously Federer, who’s won his last 10 matches at this event, is the clear pick in that one, but I think Janko will keep it closer than expected. Maybe sneak out a set?
In the second match, both guys have enjoyed excellent fall campaigns – Ferrer just picked up Paris – but I like Del Potro’s power indoor. If he’s on he’ll get through that one in straight sets over Ferrer who probably hasn’t had much time to prepare on the London courts. But it should be a fun match to watch.
Tennis Channel again has live coverage tomorrow of all matches starting at 7am ET.
TUESDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT Start 12:00 pm
 Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v  Jonathan Marray (GBR)/Frederik Nielsen (DEN)
Not Before 1:45 PM
 Roger Federer (SUI) v  Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
Not Before 6:00 PM
 Leander Paes (IND)/Radek Stepanek (CZE) v  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK)/Jean-Julien Rojer (NED)
Not Before 7:45 PM
 David Ferrer (ESP) v  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
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