by Kevin Craig
Rafael Nadal is a man on a mission and he is taking no stops along the way. At the ATP World Tour Finals Wednesday, the Spaniard was able to easily dispatch the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Andy Murray. With many tennis fans around the world writing off Nadal and not expecting him to return to the top level of the game, he has been given extra motivation at the end of this year that he hopes will carry over into the 2016 season. For now, though, Nadal will be pleased with his current run of form and that he has advanced to the semifinal round of the World Tour Finals.
Nadal’s win over Murray came with a 6-4, 6-1 score line. The match started off very tight as Nadal and Murray exchanged breaks to begin the match, and went on to play six games in the first set that went at least six points, including one that lasted 11 points. Nadal was able to get a break in the 10th game of the set, though, to earn himself a one set advantage. It was no looking back from there as the 14-time grand slam champion didn’t have to face a break point in the second set and won two-thirds of all the points played. Nadal’s consistently high level of intensity was able to fluster the British star, as Murray struggled throughout the match with his serve, only making 43 percent of his first serves and winning less than half of his service points overall.
In the second singles match of the day, Stan Wawrinka was able to fight off a hot start from David Ferrer to win 7-5, 6-2. The first set looked like smooth sailing for David Ferrer as he went up an early break, but appeared to tighten up a bit in the latter stages, allowing the 2015 French Open champion to win five games in a row from being down 2-5. Wawrinka got off to a bit of a sloppy start, as he was unable to hit through Ferrer’s great defense, but as soon as the smallest glimpse of an opportunity opened up to the Suisse, he took advantage of it and turned the match around. Similarly to the Nadal-Murray match, it was smooth sailing in the second set as Wawrinka broke in the first game and grabbed another break a couple games later to boost his lead and cruise to the win. Ferrer’s struggles on serve continued over from his first match, something that he will hope to fix in his final match at the World Tour Finals before heading into 2016.
In the doubles, the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau were able to go to 2-0 in round robin play, setting themselves up in a great position heading into their final round robin match. Their win on Wednesday came over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 7-6(3). Rojer and Tecau were able to get through the first set without much difficulty as they only lost three points on serve and didn’t have to face a break point. Needless to say, the second set was much more intense as the two teams exchanged breaks and ended up needing a tiebreaker to decide the set. The No. 2 team in the world were the better team on the day, though, as Rojer and Tecau were able to tough out the tiebreaker by a 7-3 score line.
The other doubles match saw Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut bounce back and give themselves a much better chance of advancing to the semifinal round by beating Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8. The French duo were the steadier team throughout the match as they won at least 85 percent of their first serve points in every set, including going eight-for-eight in the super tiebreak.
Not only did Rafael Nadal clinch his spot in the semifinal round, he was also able to clinch the first place spot of the group. This means the second place spot will be decided by the match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, which will surely be an exciting affair on Friday. As for the doubles, despite the loss on Wednesday, Matkowski and Zimonjic still see their semifinal hopes alive, as a win is needed over Dodig/Melo and Herbert/Mahut would have to lose to Rojer/Tecau in straights.
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer was able to hand Novak Djokovic is his first loss in 24 matches on Tuesday at the World Tour Finals in London, playing at a consistently high level throughout the match. Federer’s performance stifled the No. 1 player in the world as Djokovic appeared to be stunned by Federer’s play and the simple fact that he was unable to get a lead. Despite going to 2-0 in the group stage, Federer has yet to secure his spot in the semifinal round due to Kei Nishikori getting a three set victory over Tomas Berdych. The win for the 2014 US Open finalist has set up what will be an eventful and intense Thursday at the World Tour Finals.
Federer’s performance over Djokovic was vintage Federer. The first set was very straightforward for both men, as there was only one break point total through the first 11 games. It was in the 12th game of the set that Federer was able to dig into Djokovic’s serve and earn himself the break and win the first set. The second was a breeze for the Suisse as Djokovic’s level dropped massively and he looked nothing like the player who had only lost five matches in 2015 previous to Tuesday. Djokovic was only able to win five points on his first serve in the second set, and he gave Federer way too many opportunities as he donated unforced errors in bunches, giving Federer the 7-5, 6-2 win. While Federer has not locked up his spot in the semifinal round, this match will surely give him the confidence needed to defeat Nishikori on Thursday and secure the first place seed of this group.
Kei Nishikori’s win over Tomas Berdych came in a very entertaining battle that was the first singles match of the tournament to go three sets. Both players were far from their best when it came to serving, but Nishikori was able to win the bigger points and earn himself nine break points throughout the match. This constant pressure on the Berdych serve was pivotal for Nishikori as he was able to fight through the adversity of losing the second set and get the much needed break in the third to get himself the 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win. Despite the win today, Nishikori could still finish in any position in the group, depending on the Thursday results. Likewise, Berdych still has an opportunity to survive through the group stage, but that would require a win over Djokovic and some help from Federer.
The doubles group that played on Tuesday has a much clearer vision about the semifinal stage as the team of Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea were able to secure their spot in the next round with a straight sets win over Jamie Murray and John Peers. This result, along with Bob and Mike Bryan getting an easy victory over Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, set up a winner takes all match for Thursday. With Bopanna/Mergea already clinching the first place spot of the group, the match between Bryan/Bryan and Murray/Peers will decide who moves on to the semifinal stage with the second place spot.
The Bryan brothers were able to garner a good bounce back win over the Italian pairing of Bolelli/Fognini, 6-3, 6-2. Coming off of a disappointing loss in their first match, the Americans looked very comfortable and confident on Tuesday, only dropping eight points on serve and not facing a single break point. Bolelli and Fognini will be disappointed by being eliminated from the World Tour Finals after just two matches, but their 2015 was very successful as they were able to take home the Australian Open title.
The eighth seeded team of Bopanna/Mergea that didn’t secure their spot in the World Tour Finals until the last week of the season seems to be playing with a bit of house money. After defeating the Bryan brothers on Sunday, they were able to dispatch Murray and Peers, the two time grand slam finalists in 2015, in a tight two setter on Tuesday, 6-3, 7-6(5). The win saw them lock up the first seed of the group even if they lose their third match, as they will have a head-to-head advantage over whichever team ends up being the second seed. The team of Bopanna and Mergea enjoy playing in London, as they were able to make the semifinals of Wimbledon earlier in the year and are now playing as confidently as they have in 2015.
by Kevin Craig
The last tournament of the ATP calendar sees the eight best singles players and doubles teams battling each other for the title of World Tour Finals Champion. In the round robin format, every participant is able to overcome a loss, or possibly even two, but the teams that win on day one take the first and most important step towards the title.
The opening day of the ATP World Tour Finals in London saw the two main attractions of Group Stan Smith easily win their matches as Novak Djokovic dispatched Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, and Roger Federer defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2. Djokovic was able to continue his out-of-this-world form, only dropping two games to the 2014 US Open finalist. Djokovic didn’t face a break point in the entire match and only lost nine points on serve total. While Nishikori may not have been 100 percent healthy, the Serbian was able to keep his game at an incredibly high level, playing insane defense on almost every point, allowing himself to get some breathing room before his matches with Berdych and Federer.
Roger Federer played the last match of day one and was able to sustain the powerful game of Tomas Berdych, winning easily in straight sets. After exchanging breaks early in the first set, Federer was able to turn his game around and didn’t face another break point for the rest of the match. Meanwhile, Berdych struggled with his serve throughout the match as he only made 44 percent of his first serves and faced six break points, losing four of them. The Suisse maestro was able to overcome hitting four double faults by winning 86 percent of his first serve points and almost 50 percent of his return points.
Meanwhile on the doubles side of the tournament, the first-seeded Bryan brothers were upset in rather routine fashion by the team of Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea by a score line of 6-4, 6-3. The first set was tight as both teams won the same amount of points, 26. The teams exchanged two breaks each early in the set, but the eighth-seeded Bopanna/Mergea were the better team on the day as they were able to get one break more to win the first, and saved both break points they faced in the second set to get the straight sets win. The Bryans are now 0-2 against Bopanna and Mergea in London, after they lost to them in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon earlier this year.
The home favorite team of Brit Jamie Murray and Australian John Peers won a very tight match over Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli, 7-6, 3-6, 11-9. The exciting doubles affair was the first match of the tournament and many fans were eager that the rest of the matches would follow suit. Instead, this was the only match of the four played on day one that went three sets. The fourth-seeded Murray/Peers gave the London crowd the win they wanted and also gave them a very exciting match. Despite the loss, the Italians set themselves up well by winning a set and only losing 10 games. This could come into play in their favor if the group ends up seeing three teams with the same record.
With these results, the Bryan brothers find themselves in a bit of trouble after day one of the tournament, as they failed to win a set and are now forced to play well against the Australian Open champs Bolelli/Fognini and the US Open and Wimbledon finalists Murray/Peers if they hope to make a run at the title. On the singles side, these opening matches only gave further proof as to what many fans already believed; Djokovic and Federer would be the class of Group Stan Smith. If either Berdych or Nishikori hope to make a run at the World Tour Finals, they’ll have to greatly raise their level in their remaining matches.
by James A. Crabtree
Normality has been restored, with the exploits of Janowicz, Darcis, Del Potro, Stakhovsky, Brown, Kubot and Verdasco disappearing into the vault named Wimbledon folklore.
After all the hiccups throughout the draw the number one and two ranked players meet in the final. Wimbledon 2013, like 33 of the last 34 Slams will be won by one of the Big Four.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, currently the best hard-court players tour, know each other’s games well. Too well, having played18 times, with Djokovic leading 11–7. This tally includes three Grand Slam finals. The 2011 and 2013 Australian Opens, won by Djokovic and the 2012 US Open, won by Murray.
For Murray to win this one he will have to find influence from a multitude of sources. He is coming off a tough fight back victory against Verdasco, and a solid win against Janowicz. There is no reason to believe he has peaked. Also, he has beaten his rival on the big stage but also on the same court, one year ago during the Olympic semi-final. He knows he can’t rely on just rallying out his opponent. He needs surprise attacks, rather than just the passive get backs. Somehow he needs to persuade the Serb to over hit his backhand and question the serve that can get tight under pressure. He needs to keep Novak guessing, find a way into his brain while keeping his own mind unruffled. Conversely, the Serb will be looking to play the very same mind games, and very similar tactics to the Scot.
Wimbledon 2013 will serve to either even the score for Murray or push Djokovic past the tallies of Becker and Edberg with six total slams and onto seven to equal Wilander and McEnroe.
Novak has reached this level by shaking the old label as someone who would quit and crumble. These days he doesn’t merely tolerate tough battles, in truth they galvanize him, not that he has had many this Wimbledon. When he is pushed to the brink he screams, dives, slides, rips and fights to the bitter end better than no man. A tennis machine, possibly inspired by Nikola Tesla, is always dangerous even when he is playing badly; he is always in the game. Novak carries the air of invincibility. He doesn’t miss an easy shot. His serve is rarely broken. He doesn’t make unforced errors. He chases down balls that most players wouldn’t have even attempted. The only real worry is the fact he has only been pushed once all tournament, in that absurdly good semi-final against Del Potro. But is it foolhardy to question someone who has been good?
If Novak claims his second Wimbledon crown he will further cement his name as a legend, all round good guy, great player on all surfaces and poster boy for the new Serbia. If Murray wins his first Wimbledon crown, and the countries first in seventy-seven years, the Scot will enter the realms if immortality. Murray hysteria will abound. Aside from all his extra million dollar deals will be surely be a Knighthood, statue at the All England Club, a new Column in Trafalgar square opposite Nelson and likely divinization.
By Melissa Boyd
Novak Djokovic followed up his historic 2011 season with another stellar campaign in 2012 which he capped on Monday with a 7-6(6), 7-5 victory over Roger Federer to capture his second title at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London and finish as the World No. 1 for the second consecutive year.
In a fitting season finale between the top two players in the world, Djokovic and Federer both had moments of brilliance throughout the tightly contested affair including a brilliant backhand down the line winner from the Serbian on match point. The Swiss, who was looking for a record seventh title in eight final appearances at the Final Showdown, led by a break in both sets and appeared to be on his way to a comfortable win. However, Djokovic once again showcased his trademark resiliency and mental toughness to earn a straight sets triumph.
With his 13th career victory over Federer, Djokovic collects his sixth title of the season as well as his ATP-leading 75th match win. He also appeared in 11 finals this year at 14 of the top events on Tour and went undefeated for the first time at the Final Showdown which warranted him a $1,760,000 winner’s cheque and a 2,000 point lead over Federer in the world rankings.
This concludes another memorable season on the ATP World Tour. Just when it seemed like they couldn’t raise the excellence bar any higher, the “big four” of men’s tennis once again out did themselves. Despite coming up short in London, Federer added to his legendary legacy and proved that age is just a number, reviving his career with one his best seasons at the age of 31. He won his 17th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon, an Olympic silver medal, and broke Pete Sampras’ record for number of weeks at no. 1, a milestone many felt was out of his reach. Andy Murray finally broke through in 2012, re-wrote the British tennis history books, and took the proverbial monkey off his back. He became the first British man in 76 years to win a Grand Slam singles title when he was crowned champion at the U.S. Open. The Scot also won the Olympic gold medal on his home court in London. Rafael Nadal may have only played the first half of the year, but the Spaniard still broke Bjorn Borg’s record by winning his seventh Roland-Garros crown. The game will be that much better when he returns healthy and rejuvenated in 2013. The “big four” won 14 of the 15 biggest tournaments this season with the exception being world no. 5 David Ferrer capturing his maiden Masters 1000 title in Paris. Add in names like Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic, and Kei Nishikori and 2012 will be remembered as unforgettable.
With so much excitement surrounding 2013 before the dust even has time to settle on the season that was, the good news for tennis fans is that the Australian Open is only 50 days away.
Andy Murray is likely to be knighted one day for his Olympic gold medal-winning performance at the 2012 London Games, defeating seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer on Centre Court at the All England Club.
However, until the Scotsman becomes “Sir” Andy Murray, he will have to settle for being immortalized….in LEGO.
All Olympic champions from Team GB at the London 2012 Games are being honored with a LEGO “minifig” replica of themselves. Britain’s Daily Telegraph shows photos of some of the other LEGO minifigs here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/picturegalleries/9464974/London-2012-Olympics-LEGO-minifigs-of-Team-GB-gold-medal-winners.html?frame=2305352
Four weeks after losing a heart-breaking Wimbledon singles final to Federer, Murray turned the tables on the Swiss maestro, easily defeating winning Olympic gold by a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 margin. Winless in four major singles finals, including his 2012 Wimbledon loss and three previous major singles finals to Federer, Murray was finally able break through and win on one of the grandest stages in all of sport. While not as famous as the 76-year drought since the last British man, Fred Perry, won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1936, the last British man to win Olympic singles gold was 104 years ago in 1908 when Josiah Ritchie was the Olympic champion. Curiously, the 1908 Olympic tennis event was also played at the All England Club at Wimbledon, although the event was staged down the road at the former Worple Road facility just down the road from the present location of the club.
The No. 4 ranked Murray is still in search for his first major tournament victory. He has his next chance later this month at the US Open, a tournament that he has called his favorite.
The history of the tennis competition at the Olympic Games is documented in a new KINDLE ebook “Olympic Tennis: An Historical Snapshot” released by TennisGrandstand, LLC. The book provides readers with a compilation of anecdotes, summaries, scores, medalists and records from all of the Olympic tennis competitions from 1896 to 1924 and from 1988 to 2008. The 2012 Olympic tennis competition will be held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the site of the annual Championships at Wimbledon, where Roger Federer and Serena Williams just claimed singles titles.
“Olympic Tennis: An Historical Snapshot” serves as an excellent “program-like” guide for spectators planning to attend the Olympic tennis competition, where Federer, Williams, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Victroria Azarenka, Andy Murray and Agnieszka Radwanska are among the favorites. Readers will learn of such interesting facts as which U.S. President had medal-winning relatives in the tennis competition, what tennis player has played in the most Olympic tennis events, what were the longest – and shortest – matches ever played in the Olympic tennis competition and much more information include an Olympic tennis record book and a day-by-day summary of Olympic tennis happenings through the years.
The book is available for American readers here for a price of $2.99:
For residents of the United Kingdom, the book can be downloaded here: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.co.uk/Olympic-Tennis-Historical-Snapshot-ebook/dp/B008EOXW40/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1342542285&sr=8-3
TennisGrandstand, LLC is a publishing company that runs the popular tennis websites www.TennisGrandstand.com and www.WorldTennisMagazine.com. It has also published the book “The Yoga Guide To Diet and Peace of Mind,” available here: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Guide-Diet-Peace-ebook/dp/B008AYME0C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342541363&sr=1-1&keywords=yoga+diet+peace+of+mind
by Ahmed Ibrahim
All or nothing. That’s what this crowd at the O2 Arena expects when you take the court and in the Semi-Finals of the ATP World Tour Finals that is what is needed. No relying on bizarre round robin results; just you versus your opponent. A win and you are in the Finals; a loss and you are going home – start all over again in January 2012.
Despite having only 16 hours respite since his third Round Robin match, David Ferrer gave it all he had against a nervous Roger Federer. Many assumed that given Roger’s almost two-day rest he would walk through this match and into the Final in the blink of an eye. Although winning 7-5 6-3, he was pushed hard by a motivated and never-say-die Ferrer.
The start was nervy for both players and they never really asserted themselves in their usual manner and hit some uncharacteristic unforced errors. Federer’s groundstrokes were a shadow of the laser-precision he used to smash through Rafael Nadal on Tuesday committing a stream of unforced errors that reminded fans of those bad performances this year.
There were no signs of fatigue from the previous match on the face of Ferrer as he ran down all the shots that Federer fired at him, scrambling for well-disguised drop shots and running back to the baseline for lobs — even winning a stunning backhand pass that caught Federer off guard.
Federer’s breakthrough came at 5-5 when he created two break points on Ferrer’s serve. Ferrer’s serve saved him one break point as Federer returned long, but Federer took the second point when Ferrer hit wide on a forehand.
Federer clinched the first set by holding comfortably to love. An uncharectaristic first set for Federer as he notched up 19 unforced errors; Ferrer committed 11.
The second set saw more of the dominant Federer that has graced the court at The O2. Breaking Ferrer in the opener to 30, Federer did not look back and held on to serve with whipping groundstrokes only losing one point on his serve in the second set.
Reaching match point after a net cord winner on Ferrer’s serve at 3-5 , Federer squandered the chance when he hit long but finally took the match two points later when Ferrer failed to return a forehand.
The win takes Federer through to his 100th Final and will be looking to create history as the only player to win six ATP World Tour Finals titles.
The second semi-final featured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych. Tsonga reached the Semi-Final after defeating last year’s finalist Rafael Nadal in three sets on Thursday night; Berdych was locked in a three-way tie between himself, Ferrer and Novak Djokovic, but qualified on the tie-break head-to-head result alongside Ferrer.
Tsonga was looking to make it a third straight Sunday date with Federer and booked his place in the Final with a fairly comfortable 6-3 7-5 victory over the big serving Czech.
Tsonga asserted himself immediately in the match with similar aggressive tactics that he used against Nadal and broke Berdych at 2-3. The one break was sufficient for Tsonga who held on take the set.
Continuing to apply the pressure, Tsonga set up two break points but failed to convert any of them. At 3-3 the breakthrough came when Berdych double faulted the game away, but he broke back immediately.
Berdych, realizing that he had to change tactics opted for a more aggressive approach as he began to attack the net in similar fashion to what he did against Ferrer. Despite this change in play, Tsonga still managed to squeeze past as Berdych hit a forehand to the net gifting Tsonga with the chance to serve to go to the Finals. Tsonga served up two aces as he held to 15.
Tsonga will hope to make it third time lucky against Roger Federer in the Finals and is hoping to improve upon a 3-7 career record. With memories of the Paris Masters final still fresh in his mind he would love nothing more than to recreate those joyous scenes we saw on the hallowed turf of Centre Court at Wimbledon in June as she shocked Federer by winning after a comeback from two sets to love down.
Things are shaping up for a cracking end of season match and coupled with the electric atmosphere at the O2, it has the potential to blow the roof off the Arena.
With Federer playing the way he has been there is no denying that Tsonga will have to play at his best and give that bit more to clinch his maiden ATP World Tour Finals title.
Ahmed Ibrahim is the author of the website Tennis Addict. He is in London covering the ATP World Tour Finals as a guest contributor for Tennis Grandstand. Follow his ATP World Tour Finals updates on his personal twitter @TennisAddict_
by Stephanie Neppl
By the time the final round robin match was ready to begin at the ATP World Tour Finals on Friday night, the O2 crowd was truly energized. Not only were they promised an intriguing match between David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, but the result would decide whether Berdych or world #1 Novak Djokovic would advance to the semifinals.
Ferrer had been the in-form player coming into the match after defeating both Djokovic and Andy Murray in straight sets to lead his group. Berdych, on the other hand, saw both his previous matches decided by third set tiebreaks. He wasn’t able to close out Djokovic, but defeated Janko Tipsarevic after surviving a match point.
The O2 Arena delivers such an amazing experience when players enter the court. The lights dim, the blue court literally glows and superb graphics on the big screen and all around the court are dazzling. Add in the smoke machine and music and the tennis players must feel like grand celebrities. It’s an amazing sight and made this tennis player proud to be present to cheer on the ATP’s top stars during the week.
From the first point, Ferrer continued the form he’d shown all week and he fought off early break points to take the set 6-3. Berdych played evenly throughout the match, but it was Ferrer who was winning the rallies, which often ended on a Berdych error (43 in total).
But when serving up a break at 4-3 in the second set, the Spaniard tightened up and handed the break back. Seemingly from nowhere, Ferrer’s play, particularly his serve slumped and Berdych seemed to have an extra spring in his step throughout the third set. He sprinted to a 5-0 lead (winning seven straight games), before Ferrer held serve to escape a bagel, and then took the match 3-6,7-5, 6-1.
Watching a player as likeable and hard-working as Ferrer suddenly struggle to find his shots was not easy. But Berdych, who seemed an afterthought on the tour for much of the first half of the season, was delighted with the way he hung in there and he was rewarded for his perseverance.
“The turning point, I think, was just the one that I made on set point to win the second set, because all the time before I was down,” said Berdych. “When I made the second set, it just gave me a lot of confidence [and] energy. I started to feel really great on court.”
The Czech moves into the World Tour Finals semifinals for the first time, and will face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Ferrer, who has already qualified after winning his first two matches, faces Roger Federer whom he has a 0-11 record against.
Stephanie Neppl is in London covering the ATP World Tour Finals as a guest contributor for Tennis Grandstand. She is the author of the website I Have a Tennis Addiction and you can follow her on twitter @StephInNZ for further updates.
by Ahmed Ibrahim
Twists and turns. That is the Round Robin format of this ATP World Tour Final, and Novak Djokovic is no exception as he had to wait several more hours to find out if his stellar 2011 had come to an end. Unfortunately for Djokovic, his stay in London was cut short after an amazing year, as he lost to Janko Tipsarevic 3-6 6-3 6-3.
It cannot be easy playing against your fellow countryman in such a high-stakes match and many had predicted a virtual walkover by Djokovic; people questioned whether Janko Tipsarevic had it within him to beat the World Number 1 in such circumstances given past performances. How wrong they were.
The first set was a 2011 Djokovic performance and a straight sets victory was looking likely as he got out of the starting blocks and took the match to Tipsarevic. The forehands and backhands that had failed him against David Ferrer found life to devastating effect as he broke Tipsarevic at 1-2. Moving effortlessly with fluid shots, Djokovic held serve and took the first set with a blinding forehand cross-court winner.
It’s not surprising that many people in the Arena had never actually heard of Tipsarevic. He is a player who has laid quite low in recent years but came within a whisker of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals outright had he beaten Tomas Berdych in Paris. Still, he is here as the alternate for Andy Murray and has had the year of his career.
Throughout the second set Tipsarevic clung on to his game buoyed on by the 17,500-strong crowd in the O2 Arena. Djokovic began to lose steam and the errors that began his downfall against Ferrer started to make an unwelcome comeback. Tipsarevic pounced at the opportunity and broke Djokovic to lead 4-2 when Djokovic played an out-of-bounds dropshot that hit the net. Tipsarevic gave back the break but got things back together when Djokovic served a double-fault and hit a groundstroke into the net leaving Tipsarevic with a golden opportunity to serve for the set.
The loss of this set added complication to Djokovic’s prospects for qualification and his fate would lie in the hands of the night match between David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych. At this stage of the game it was evident to the crowd in the arena that Djokovic was running on fumes and no matter how they tried to cheer him encouragement he just could not respond in an adequate manner. Breaking and leading 5-3, Tipsarevic took the match as Djokovic slammed a forehand into the net.
Tipsarevic look somewhat ashamed as he acknowledged the crowd’s applause for having put a spanner in the works of the World Number 1’s progress in the tournament. Tipsarevic was the far better player in the second and third sets with a more consistent and aggressive game plan. He could not qualify for the Semi-Finals but he will take comfort at having beaten a World Number 1 to end his groundbreaking season.
For Djokovic, he would have to sit and wait the outcome of the night match but whatever the result he has had a year that he, and many tennis fans, will not forget for a longtime.
Ahmed Ibrahim is the author of the website Tennis Addict. He is in London covering the ATP World Tour Finals as a guest contributor for Tennis Grandstand. Follow his ATP World Tour Finals updates on his personal twitter@TennisAddict_