So my predictions held again, Novak not only came through in his fight against Berdych he didn’t even have to try hard in the first set which he took 6-2. Berdych displayed his erratic form that plagues him every few matches or so. Somehow he can’t sustain his level of excellence for more than a tournament and this inconsistency is what will prevent him from winning a slam rather than lack of talent. Nole didn’t even have to kick it up a notch because Tomas did a good enough job of defeating himself. Was this just another Berdych mood swing? Was it the pressure of having to win in straights set to get to the SFs too much to handle? Or was it just because he is not inspired unless he faces Roger Federer?
After losing the first set the hope was gone for Tomas to qualify for the SFs. Perhaps he felt the pressure was off because the second set saw Berdych find his game. He hung in there toe to toe with Nole while Nole made a few mistakes of his own. Credit to Tomas for making it an evenly matched set to take it to a tie break, despite his forehand really letting him down. He committed 25 unforced errors of which 17 of them were off his forehand. In the tie break, unbelievably Berdych was up 5-1 and then again at 6-3. However, then Djokovic showed why he’s number 1 by taking the next 5 straight points to win the match, 6-2, 7-6(6). It ain’t over till it’s over are the words Nole seems to live by as he has shown this year in the QFs at Roland Garros, and the finals at Shanghai. With this win, Berdych is out of contention and Novak tops the group.
Novak’s straight sets win made the formula very simple for Andy in his game against Tsonga. All he had to do was win just one set and he would be through to the SFs. And Andy did just that. In the first set he was better than Tsonga in every department, serve, return and never facing break point. He quickly took it 6-2 and assured himself of being in the 2nd position in Group A and into the SFs. The second set, just like the previous match of Group A, was much tighter. Tsonga upped his game and kept up with Murray. Breaks were exchanged and leveled to race to a 6-6 score line. In the tie break however, things were much simpler for Andy and he won the set and the match, 6-2, 7-6(3). Despite the second set being tougher, it never seemed too dire for Murray and at the end, the score line was no surprise.
Today the final round robin matches of Group B will get underway with Federer and del Potro squaring off first. This one is a tougher one to call. In Group B, he is the only one who has ever defeated Federer. Their H2H is 13-3 but more importantly, in their most recent encounter, del Potro won the Swiss Indoors trophy in Roger’s own backyard in Basel. Roger has said that he would like to win and not go into the next year having lost to Delpo twice in a row. So I think Roger will be focused on reversing the results today. However, Roger is not dependent on the outcome of this match for a place in the SFs, he’s already through. That means he can play more freely which I think he will. Although the intent will firmly be on defeating del Potro, my guess is he will play a bit recklessly and try some different variations and will mix up his shots even more. It will be good match practice ahead of the SFs. Will he win? He’ll try for sure but it might take 3 tight sets. A lot will depend on how much of an experimental mood he is in and also on whether he has been able to get his first serve firing again after the disaster of the last match.
The next match between Ferrer and Tisparevic should be relatively straightforward with a win for Ferrer, maybe in 3 but possibly in 2 sets. Tipsarevic has been playing tennis reminiscent of his top 50 days and has not looked like the top 10 player that he has been throughout the year. Either it’s still the illness or just mental fatigue. Same time last year he beat Djokovic to put Nole out of contention in the 2011 World Tour Finals but none of that fire has been there this time around. Tipsarevic and Tsonga have been quite out of form for this entire tournament such that it’s often seemed to be the top 6 plus 2. Hopefully they will both come back recharged after the off season next year.
Federer is already through to the SFs but the next post is up for grabs by either Ferrer or Delpo. Ferrer needs to beat Tipsarevic, (which he will) and also needs for Federer to beat Delpo (doesn’t matter in how many sets in either case). Any other scenario will see Juan Martin through to the SFs.