Tsonga Beats Nadal, Secures ATP Finals SF; Can Djokovic Join Him?
by Staff | November 24th, 2011, 11:11 pm

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga finished off Rafael Nadal’s ATP World Tour Finals hope defeating the former world No. 1 today 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3.

The win eliminates Nadal from the competition and puts Tsonga in his first World Tour Finals semi.

“Tonight I just played well, amazing tennis,” said Tsonga. “I don’t know if Rafa played really well. But, anyway, he fought to come back. This is what champions do every time. I was really aggressive. I had a good percentage of winners. I put a lot of pressure on him today.”

Despite all his titles, Nadal still has yet to win the year-end championship event. Last year he lost in the finals to Roger Federer. This year, he went 1-2 beating only newcomer Mardy Fish in a third set tiebreak on Sunday.

“I think I didn’t play well tonight,” said Nadal. “The first two sets I didn’t play bad, but I didn’t play well, and to win these kind of matches you have to play well. I played without anything special tonight. If the two first sets weren’t good, the third was a disaster. That’s the truth. He’s a dangerous player. For sure it is not easy to play against him, big serve, aggressive player. To play against these kind of players, you have to do something else more, and I didn’t.”

After losing four of his last six ATP matches of the season, Nadal will have to regroup for the upcoming Davis Cup final against Argentina next month, and also look ahead to 2012.

“This end of the year wasn’t easy for me,” said Nadal who’s last title came at the French Open. “That’s hard to accept. But at the same time that’s given me a little bit more illusion and little bit more of a goal for the beginning of 2012. This year was a tough year for me. I think it was a positive one for moments, but at the same time it was hard for moments. [I have to] accept what happened during all the season and I need time to think.

I know only one way to change the situation, [and that] is to work more, think more about tennis, do everything in the right shape, do everything good inside the court, and everything good outside the court,” he added. “And that’s what I am going to try to do for the next month and for the next 12 months of 2012. That’s what I can say. That’s what I can do.”

Tomorrow, the last semifinal berth will be decided between Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic.

The sputtering Djokovic will play countryman and sub Janko Tipsaravic. If Djokovic loses then Berdych qualifies for the semifinal. If both Djokovic and Berdych win the edge will go to the player with the fewest sets lost on the day.

“There is still a chance,” Djokovic said Wednesday after his stunning loss to Ferrer. “But if I don’t play at least 50% better than I did tonight, I don’t think I’ll have any chance. You always hope that [Friday] will bring something better. That’s the way I’m thinking now.”

Berdych will play Group A leader David Ferrer. The Spaniard, who has already secured his semifinal berth, will clinch the group win and play Tsonga on Saturday unless he loses to Berdych and Tipsarevic upsets Djokovic.

In his semifinal defending London champion and Group B winner Federer will await the No. 2 from Group A, either Berdych, Djokovic or Ferrer.

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57 Comments for Tsonga Beats Nadal, Secures ATP Finals SF; Can Djokovic Join Him?

laslo Says:

It would be best if Berdych played Fed as I believe Novak is beyond burnt out. Let Novak tank to Tipsarevic.

Michael Says:

Nadal played well below par and still he was able to compete with Tsonga in his opponent’s favourite Court. That tells the high level of Nadal’s play. He was tanking some easy forehand shots and his retrieving ability too has taken a nosedive. What was counting for him was his serve which made a match of it. Now with Murray and Nadal out of the tournament, it is important that Novak atleast qualifies for the semi-finals to sustain the interest. With this poor form of Djokovic, it would be surprising if Federer does not able to beat him. May be Berdych would be a good opposition than Djokovic, but brand is always important.

Little Wing Says:

Well put Michael.

Tsonga has being playing some of his best tennis of the year the last few months and Rafa lacking confidence, playing his C-game and without matchplay for 1 month came very close to beating a confident Tsonga.

Robbie Naidoo Says:

The scenario’s a little confusing at the season ending World Tour finals.. Djoko needs to get thru.. This means he has to beat Tipsarevic and hope that Ferrer beats Berdych.. One perspective is that he doesnt want to play Federer who is playing like a demon.. The other is Djoko is playing these short points bcos he’s injured.. If both those theories are wrong and he is fit then it could b interesting.. Fed and he hv played 5 times this year and Djokos won 4.. The set count is 11-5 to Djoko.. But Federers competed much better the last 2 times time they met – at the US and French.. so that advantage may be waning.. If Djoko makes it thru to the semis and does clean him out it may be reinstating the clear psychological edge he had earlier in the year and this mayb what Djoko is looking for to take into the new season.. But then again maybe Nole wants to succumb and not play Fed.. Then he may throw in the towel against Tipsarevic.. Watch this space.

rogerafa Says:

” If Djokovic loses then Berdych qualifies for the semifinal.”

That is not correct. If Ferrer beats Berdych, Novak will qualify even in the very unlikely event of losing to Tipso. If Novak wins, his qualification still depends on the result and, in some scenarios, the scoreline of the Ferrer-Berdych match. However, it appears that Berdych must win his match against Ferrer to stand any chance of qualifying. He may need to win in straight sets depending on the scoreline of the Novak-Tipso match.

Nims Says:

I do not understand what type of match few people saw. It was Tsonga all the way with Nadal just hanging. Tsonga level dropped significantly for Rafa to win the 2nd set. Rest, it was Tsonga having the upperhand.

andres Says:

Still Nadal took a set from a match he was been dominated. Thats how tough that guy is.

Daniel Says:

If Djokom wins, Ferrer qualify first, regardless of how many sets and if Ferrer loses to Berdych.

If Djoko wins in straights he only needs Ferrer to win 1 set and he is in the semis as second of his group.

– Ferrer 4-0 + 1-2 = 5-2 (2,5 set won/loss)
– Djoko 2-3 + 2-0 = 4-3 (1,333 set won/loss)
– Berdy 3-3 + 2-1 = 5-4 (1,25 set won/loss)

If Djoko wins in 3 sets any Berdych victory will elimnate Djoko

– Ferrer 4-0 + 1-2 = 5-2 (2,5 set won/loss)
– Djoko 2-3 + 2-1 = 4-4 (1 set won/loss)
– Berdy 3-3 + 2-1 = 5-4 (1,25 set won/loss)

The only way Ferrer can be second in his group is if Djoko loses and Ferrer loses to Berdy, as only Ferrer and Berdy will have 2 wins and the direct confront will favor Berdy.

van orten Says:

watching djoker play it is really annoying people expect fed nadal or djoker to play always super dupa consistently well and without UE…i mean those guys already showed again and again that they are the best ..so give them a break if luck changes a little bit of momentum…!!!!! they will still be the men to beat next year..said that : tipsy has set points to equal the score!!!

Daniel Says:

And, if Djoko loses and Berdy loses, there will be a 3 way tie with 1 victory and 2 defeats. Everything will come down to set won loss ratio, so will depend on the scores of the matches. Right now, Tipsy can olny win in 3, so the max he can get is 3-5 sets won loss

– Ferrer 2-0, 4-0
– Djoko 1-1, 2-3
– Berdy 1-1, 3-3
– Tipsy 0-2, 1-4

So if Tipsy wins (in 3) and Berdy loses in 2, Djoko they all will be tied with 3-5 sets won loss, so it will come down to games, as that year wiht Delpo and Murray.
If Tipsy win and Berdy loses in 3, Berdy is in with 4-5 sets won loss and Djoko and Tipsy out.

Lulu Iberica Says:

This result was more disappointing than Rafa’s blowout loss to Fed. If Fed is in GOAT mode at WTF, what can anyone do? But Tsonga… As good as he is, Rafa should be able to beat him. Well, I hope Rafa gets it together for Davis Cup, because losing on clay in Spain, while playing for Spain, would be about the biggest psychological disaster I can imagine. I wish Fed and Ferru luck for the rest of the tournament!

Gannu Says:

God knows why they want to make this RR format so complicated!…so Daniel according to you Berdych just needs to win one set and he is through to the semis – right?

Gannu Says:

robby koenig is telling if berdych loses he failsto qualify..he has to win to qualify…why this disconnect..this is so damn confusing

Sean Randall Says:

The scenario:

* If Berdych beats Ferrer – Berdych wins the group (H2H tiebreak between Berdych/Ferrer then goes to Berdych) and plays Tsonga; Ferrer plays Federer

* If Ferrer beats Berdych – Ferrer wins the group and Djokovic finishes second (Djokovic wins H2H tiebreaker with Berdych); Djokovic then plays Federer and Ferrer plays Tsonga

Brando Says:

Ferrer should win tonight- he’s been playing awesome tennis and would not want to face federer in the SF. Happy for tipsy to get a win and also his 1st against nole. Feel sorry for nole, he is on empty an it would be cruel for him to face fed in SF in this state. He clearly wants to be on a beach somewhere,lol! Still good fight from him. But this tourny needs a federer- ferrer final, I feel, the 2 best players ( maybe also the only 2 fit players) by a mile!

Contemperory Says:

Daniel, per the ATP site, the scenario is as Sean has mentioned. If Berdych loses, then Djokovic will play fed in the semis.

However, I was just confused because as Daniel was saying, we get a 3 way tie , and then it all boils down to the sets and games. Is that not the right way?

Contemperory Says:

I guess, the reason is Murray’s withdrawal. Tipsy has played only two matches so he doesn’t enter into the equation of a 3 way tie.:)

Brando Says:

@contemperory: yes, tipsy is unlucky really. He beats nole, runs berdy close and could qualify HAD andy not played ferrer instead. But still to finish the year as no. 9 after starting it no. 49, playing in the WTF an beating nole for the 1st time: like he said on court- he’ll take that anytime!

Contemperory Says:

Yes: To quote the rule from ATP:

Comment 1: 1 player (Ferrer, in this hypothetical case) has 3 wins and the other 3 players have 1 win. Of the 3 players with 1 win, 1 player (Tipsy) has only played in 2 matches while the other 2 players have played 3 matches. The player who has only played 2 matches is eliminated and then the 2 remaining players revert back to head-to-head results with the winner of their match advancing to the semi-finals.

Yes, He will take this achievement anytime. With the current form, assuming Berdych is beaten by Ferrer, Djoko will play Fed.How do you fancy Djoko’s chances with Fed in the semi?
Similarly, Berdych might have a better chance than Djoko to beat Fed. Thoughts?

El Flaco Says:

Contemperory Says:
Similarly, Berdych might have a better chance than Djoko to beat Fed. Thoughts?

The way they are both playing right now I think that is true as long as Berdych doesn’t have a 3 hour grind fest with Ferrer. In that case I think Fed would rather play a tired Berdych. Djokovic could be dangerous because his attitude may be that it doesn’t matter and just go for his shots like when he was down match points against Fed. When he does that he could play like crap or hit a bunch of winners.

El Flaco Says:

Based on the scenarios though it doesn’t look like Berdych can finish #2 now. If he wins he is #1 and if he loses he is out. Fed is going to play either Djokovic or Ferrer.

Michael Says:

@Contemporary. Can u pls explain to me why nole has a chance of qualifying with just one win and Rafa has been eliminated with one win? Thanx

laslo Says:

Novak gave Tips some money today and a win. Good for him. I think Novak is letting this fall into the hands of fate. Let Ferrer decide if he plays Fed or not.

marrisv Says:

I think if Novak gets in to the semis which it looks like he will with ferrer leading, he may win it all.

van orten Says:

Is it djoker Vs Fed tomorrow? Wow

marrisv Says:

Not yet, berdy seems to be mounting a comeback and leads 5-4

marrisv Says:

In the second…

marrisv Says:

6-5 berdych

Brando Says:


‘I think if Novak gets in to the semis which it looks like he will with ferrer leading, he may win it all.’

He won’t. Saw nole today and all his matches, based on which right now, along with his press comments, IF he goes through it would be his biggest achievement this year IF he were to win.

The positive is that his shoulder seems to be completely healed, there is still depth in his shots, his returns still seem dangerous. HOWEVER, his serve is inconsistent, he seems error prone, he only won ONE match and that to against a guy who choked with MP. BIGGEST FACTOR though is his body language: he looks tired, burnt out and just seems like he wants this to be over asap so that he can go on his much needed vacation.

Also from his press comments i don’t think he fancies his chances much more.

Either way- it doesnt make a difference to his season at all, so he may as well just swing that racquet freely with nothing to lose one more time in a historic season.

marrisv Says:

Berdych takes the second set 7-5. On to the third we go.

Thi shas been a high quality and entertaining match

Brando Says:

Berdy might do nole a favour. For the tourny’s sake hope ferrer wins, since a semi final line up without the world’s top 3 (presently) in a tourny designed for the top 8 in the world- wouldn’t look too great i feel.

marrisv Says:

Brando – i wouldn’t write off his chances yet. He definitely also has a physiological edge against fed considering he wil play him in the semis if he gets through.

No one is expecting djoko to win and if he does make the semis, he can play more free and be that much more dangerous.

marrisv Says:

Berdych off to a fast start in the third 2-0 but ther is still time for him to choke this one off

Brando Says:


marrisv Says:

T-bird is through …. Plays Jo willy.

For all of ferrers effort he gets fed in the semis who he has never beaten I think.

andrea Says:

ferrer must be hating this…he made it all the way to the final last time and then got spanked by roger. i think it’s safe to say roger will make it thru to the final, but both tsonga and tomas are big heavy hitters and have given fed trouble in the past 2 years – in fact, both guys took out fed in the quarters in wimbledon ’11/’10.

alison hodge Says:

congrats to federer, ferrer,t.berd,tsonga,on getting to the semis,definatly the best 4 made it through,comisarations to the rest,better luck next time,i would not be surprised one bit if the winner was someone that we dont expect,rather than the one we do expect.

leo Says:

Does anyone know what channel will be having live coverage in the US? I checked Tennis Channel, but they seem to be showing the semis on delay…

El Flaco Says:

Tennis Channel has been covering the event live in the US so it should be on tomorrow.

9AM EST(2PM local) Federer/Ferrer

3PM EST(8PM local) Tsonga/Berdych

alison hodge Says:

i have to be honest here,and say i think both nole and rafa were lucky to get through there 1st round matches with wins,nole was lucky that t.berd choked on match point,and rafa was lucky that fish couldnt hold serve after breaking,if not both would have been white washed,maybe the effects of a long season taking its toll,both were running on empty and did not look themselves right from the begining of the tourney imho.

van orten Says:

@ alison..thats why Fed is still the man..that guy wont feel burnt out not even with 30.. and he def. Wasnt at 25!!

alison hodge Says:

brando love your posts,but have to disagree a bit,dissapointing i suppose on one hand not to have,rafa,nole,muzza,but i would say its great to have other players you would not normally expect making a run for a change,it would be great to have all the slams like this more open,jmo but competition is more exciting than domination.

alison hodge Says:

van orten like rafa says,feds a freak of nature.

Kimmi Says:

congrats to the winners today. especially tipsa, he gets his first win over his country man djokovic. Who said nole country men cant win against him? they couldn’t because he was just too good for them but not today. That is the end of Nole season now, he gets just about 5 weeks rest before it all starts again. I think he is playing in abu dhabi, together with rafa and fed.

Nole season is great, but you can see how difficult what Johnny mac and federer did. only 3/4 loses in a year? absolutely crazy. How is this even possible, what about injuries or just plain burnouts. I hope djokovic continues to play at high level next season…I enjoyed some of his tennis this year (except when he beat federer ofcourse)when he was at full flow.

Lets see what happens next year. But first, go federer tomorrow.

grendel Says:

If anyone was in any doubt about the importance of the mental to tennis, the match tonight should have given them pause for thought. Not that it was about mental toughness, exactly, but the turning point was all about the mind.

For the first set and a half, Ferrer played beautifully. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Ferrer, there seems something ordinary about him. He definitely lacks glamour, that mysterious quality – if it is a quality.It’s something, I suppose. And yet to me, he epitomises professionalism, and he reminds me a bit of a comic hero of my youth, Alf Tupper, Tough of the Track, who subsisted on tea and fish and chips – when he could find time to gobble them down, in between training sessions. There must be some Spanish equivalent.

Ferrer seems to be getting better, even his serve is looking pretty good. Berdych just couldn’t get past him, whatever he tried. Ferrer would soak it up, and then spot the right moment to go in for the kill. If this reminds you of someone, he’s really nothing like Nadal, all muscle and deliberation. He’s busy busy, and utterly unassuming.

Still, it has to be said, Berdych was making it easy for him. He was trying so hard, the effort etched on puzzled features. I kept wondering, who is this great clodhopper, hitting the ball like a very good club player (quite good angles, not too desperately short) but rarely in such a way as to trouble the bustling Spaniard. Even his serve seemed rather feeble.

And then, a break down in the second set and the end in sight, something happened. What happened was this. Berdych RELAXED. Whether it was because he was very angry at his muted performance, and angry in the way only a naturally placid man can be (fear such a man), whether he was just fed up with life and was just going to have a bash and what the hell, or whether a cool part of his mind recognized that this caution stuff just wasn’t working – let’s go for it, man, nothing to lose but a couple more games which are going to be lost anyway.

Whatever. Fact is, he changed. His MIND changed. And that is the motor which propels the physical. With relaxation, all that anxious stiff armed nonsense evaporated and in its place was the Berdych some of us have come to know and love. Such beautiful, fluid tennis – absolute simplicity, absolute elegance, absolute power. Poor Ferrer had no idea what hit him.

If Berdych can summon this type of game more often, he has every chance of making a big impact next season. All in the mind, though, chaps. He has the game, he has the technique.

skeezerweezer Says:


Thanks for the rundown on the match, missed it and shoulda watched it. Your key word for me was RELAXED. When we teach on the court for competition, we use this a lot. Actually we say, “Relax, but stay aggressive.” Other key verb ages are “swing it as hard as you can, but never lose your form”. Another key word you used “MIND”, yes, at this level, that is where things get done or get failed. Your post was spot on in the physche of playing the game and being successful.

grendel Says:

skeezer – the trouble is, if someone says to me “relax”, I either want to hit him (the hypocrite!)or else to creep to a solitary corner. “Relaxation” seems to be one of those mysterious states of mind which cannot be summoned at will. Berdych, for example, didn’t suddenly say to himself:”this is really all going terribly wrong. What can I do? Oh, I know, I’ll stop being such a po-faced block and – relax!”

No, something happened, involuntarily, in his mind. Despair, perhaps. And this perhaps acted as a kickstart. Whatever it was, it can’t have been a conscious decision, I shouldn’t have thought.

Contemperory Says:


In Group B,
Federer: 3-0,,Tsonga: 2-1,Rafa: 1-2,Fish 0-3

Here the toppers are Federer and Tsonga, hence it is obvious why Rafa is eliminated.

When TWO players are tied with the same win-loss results, then the H2H stats are used. Before the thursday matches, Fed was 2-0, Tsonga 1-1 and Nadal 1-1. Suppose Fed had lost, and Tsonga had won, then two players would have got tied. Then, Fed still will emerge was the topper because of the H2H with Tsonga/Nadal.

What happened in Group A:
When THREE Players are tied with the same win-loss results, it is a different algorithm altogether. The player who has played less number of matches is eliminated first, then they take into consideration the H2H between the remaining two players.

Suppose Murray had not pulled out, and if all the three had 1-2 record, then the number of sets won, games won etc, will need to be calculated.

Contemperory Says:

“Then, Fed still will emerge as the topper because of his H2H with Tsonga.”

skeezerweezer Says:

grendel..well I don’t know obviously what state Berdys mind was in but when there is the idea that when all is going wrong you inadvertently relax by thinking ” ok, I am going to lose so now what? Will I go out guns blazing or will I continue to wimber out and stay on the road I am traveling? ” Thus, in this scenario per se, you let things just go and forget about the rest…making a potential dangerous concoction of unpredictable magic.

leo Says:

@El Falco – thanks, but I don’t think that is the case for the semifinals. I heard Leif Shiras saying the coverage is at 11am and 5pm. It’s the same on tennis channel website:


Tennis channel will not be broadcasting the semis live.

leo Says:

I see that you can watch the semis on ESPN3.com

Contemperory Says:

It sure is an amazing year for Djokovic and ONE of the best in the open era, but is this better than Fed’s 2006 ?

Comparisons given below (Fed 2006/Nole 2011):

a) Number of wins in the calendar year (92 vs 70) – How many people have won more than 90 matches in a calendar year? This is a real tribute to his fitness levels.
b) Number of matches played (97 vs 76)
c) Number of tournament wins (12 vs 10)
d) No WTF title
e) Number of finals played – Fed reached 16 finals out of the 17 he entered. Nole has reached what – 11 finals and lost one, out of the many (~14) tournaments he entered.
f) Fed reached all Slam finals but Nole reached only 3.
g) Fed Lost only to Nadal (4 times??) and Muray in 2006. Nole – we know.
h) Total number of points acheived – (~16000 in 2006 vs ~15000)

Areas where Fed is lagging behind Nole:

a) Number of Master’s titles (4 vs 5)
b) Number of clay titles (0 vs 2)
c) Match winning streak (~32 vs 42)

It is strange that Sampras also marked this year as the best in open era, and have read somewhere else as well, but at least arithmetically, it may not be right.

Nadal had somewhere around 77 wins in 2010, 7 (??) titles in 2010 and didnt win WTF though he won 3 slams.

Not to discount anything in Nole’s achievements, it is very evident that he has dominated the circuit this year just like Fed did for 3-4 years.

This also shows how difficult is to maintain the consistency across the complete calendar year.

However, my thoughts are not regarding Fed or Djoko. People say tennis more physical now and hence it is difficult to avoid injuries. What has changed so much between 2006 and 2011?

Wog boy Says:

If Nole can only defend AO and win FO in 2012. he will achive what no tennis player achived in the open era history.
That is what I wish to may man in the New Year.
Lets go Nole-Nolito , you can do it.

Michael Says:

@Contemporary. Thanx all clear now.

Daniel Says:

Conteperory, 2006 beyond doubt!

Fed look supreme all year, except for the Murray first round match in Cincy.

Djoko, after US Open, faded, and having 2 loses in WTF don’t help. He was incredible for 9 months, Federer was for 11.

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