One of the nuances of the round robin format is players can sometimes determine who they play in the knock-out stage. And that’s what we’ll have tomorrow on the final day of round robin play at the ATP Finals in London.
First a recap of today. And there’s not much to recap. Things against went according to form as both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray sewed up semifinal sports with identical 6-2, 7-6 scorelines.
Djokovic, who finished the round robin undefeated for the first time in his career, eliminated Tomas Berdych while Murray held on to best JW Tsonga.
“I just try to have a simple thinking, fight every point that I have,” said Djokovic who has won nine straight over the Czech. “Guess it works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t work. I’m glad it worked today.”
Berdych’s season isn’t quite done yet, he’ll have the Nadal-less Spain team next weekend in the Davis Cup finale.
After Novak’s win, Murray needed just a set off the Frenchman to book his spot. Instead, he took both from Tsonga.
”I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do. But obviously when he said that, I kind of realized,” Murray said of being informed of the permutations before the match. ”Then I just asked the umpire at the change of ends after the first set whether I was through or not. Then he said I was. That was it.”
Tsonga’s ends winless at the Finals and the Frenchman finishes the year with a horrendous 0-12 mark against Top 8 players this season.
With Djokovic the Group A winner and Murray second, now we just need to determine the Group B champion and that will come tomorrow as the round robin stage comes to a close.
Roger Federer who is undefeated thus far meets Juan Martin Del Potro and then it’s David Ferrer against Janko Tisparevic.
If Federer beats Del Potro he’ll win the group and face Murray in the semifinals on Sunday. If Federer loses in straight sets then he’ll finish second and play Djokovic.
Of course one would not think Federer would lose on purpose at this stage, and really for Federer there’s not much to choose between Djokovic and Murray, he’s lost to both this year in big matches. That said, I’d bet he’d love to play Murray and get some measure of revenge for the Olympics by beating him in front of his British fans!
And I think that’s what will happen. Del Potro will keep it close, maybe get a set, before losing to Roger who has won 12 straight at the event. Then Ferrer should steamroll the struggling Tipsarevic to take the second spot and face Djokovic in the semifinals.
Should Del Potro get hot and beat Federer in straights, the Argentine will take the group and he’ll draw Murray.
Almost unfairly – since he beat Del Potro – the only way Ferrer can get in is if he beat Tipsarevic and Federer beats Del Potro. So David will know before he takes the court if he’s still alive in the tournament.
Remember that if Del Potro and Ferrer win then Group B would have three players tied at 2-1 and the tiebreakers first falls to sets won percentage which hurts Ferrer because he’s only won two entering Friday while Federer has four (with no sets lost), Del Potro three.
Overall, with the exception of maybe Ferrer’s win over Del Potro, the favorites have all won this week with no real surprises. But that’s going to change come Sunday!
ESPN2 has coverage again tomorrow at 2pm ET and for the remainder of the Finals.
SATURDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT Start 12:00 pm
 Bob Bryan (USA)/Mike Bryan (USA) v  Leander Paes (IND)/Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Not Before 1:45 PM
 Roger Federer (SUI) v  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 5:45 PM
 Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Marc Lopez (ESP) v  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK)/Jean-Julien Rojer (NED)
Not Before 7:15 PM
 David Ferrer (ESP) v  Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
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U.S. Women’s Tennis Makes Embarrassing Exit from Fed Cup World Group [Opinion]