Day 3 of the ATP World Tour Finals has wrapped up and for once I can say I called it pretty correctly. The first match was the intensely charged clash between the 1st seed, Novak Djokovic and the 3rd seed, Andy Murray. Murray started better than I expected, breaking Novak right away to go up 2-0 in the first set. Novak played catch up from that moment on and despite applying constant pressure, the Scot held serve, faced no break points, and took the set 6-4. Murray played a near perfect set. He won 100% of his 1st serve points and 73% of his 2nd serve points compared to Djokovic’s 25%.
Then before the second set, Andy changed out of his dark shirt and into a white one to set off his banana coloured shorts even more. I mention this changeover because his form fell flat right after it. Djokovic broke Andy. Can we blame Adidas? Perhaps. Regardless it appeared that Novak came into the this set with a vengeance, as if to prove why he is the #1 ranked player in the world. His return stats improved significantly and he served much better than the first set and while Andy’s serves got worse. In every category, Murray’s performance dipped while Novak’s improved. Nole took the second set 6-3.
In the third there wasn’t much to pick from either player. Both didn’t serve particularly well but it seemed Novak finally surged ahead when he broke Andy to go up a break but then Andy leveled at 4-4 and then held serve to go up 5-4. Just when you thought Andy had it in his hands, a relentless Djokovic held serve and then broke Andy again after a hard fought game. Nole then served it out to win the match. Ultimately the match was decided in the last few minutes of its 2 hour 3 minute duration. This puts their H2H record this year at 4-3. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I feel Andy is missing that extra gear still, of finding a way out of messy un-winnable situations. It still separates him from the Big 3. And if you had thought after winning a slam he would have learned to control such negativity, then you were in for a disappointment. Andy will play Tsonga in the final round robin match while Novak will take on Berdych.
Speaking of Tsonga and Berdych, That match went as I predicted as well. I had predicted a straight sets victory for the Czech but he dropped the second set amidst moments of Tsonga’s brilliance. Tsonga played a great first set till getting broken at the end and then did well to rally and take the second, hitting an ace to close it out. In the third set however, though he started well, after the first game the Frenchman’s first serve failed him and he ultimately won only 11 of the 37 points in that set. At the end, what separated Tomas from Jo-Willy were Tomas’s better 1st serve points won, 1st return points won and ability to save break points. In 1 hour 52 minutes, Berdych won 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
As for Day 4, group favorite and defending champion Roger Federer will take on David Ferrer in the day session. Going by their H2H, (13 – 0) this should go Roger’s way. Roger would be right to be wary of Ferrer however. The Spaniard is enjoying his most successful year on tour and has won more titles than anybody this year. I had thought he’d be tired after Paris Bercy but it seems to have just invigorated him further as evidenced in his first round robin match against Delpo. On the other hand, if Roger plays the way he did against Tipsarevic there might be little David can do. Federer at his ruthless best on an indoors court is a highly daunting prospect. What David will hope for is that Roger’s first serves might falter and that perhaps he will be less successful in converting break points. This might go to 3 sets but I am predicting a win for Roger (Roger don’t let me down now!)
In the last match of the day Delpo will take on Tipsarevic. I fear Tipsarevic might lose this one (and the next match against Ferrer as well). He has been feeling ill and hasn’t seemed sharp in his first match except for a few shots here and there. Roger completely overshadowed him. Delpo is 3-0 in their H2H and he will want a win in his column after losing soundly to Ferrer. I predict a straight sets victory for Delpo that will leave him feeling pumped and full of confidence for his final round robin match against Federer on Day 6.