Robin Soderling continued his confident run in the Barclays ATP World Tour finals by defeating Novak Djokovic. 7-6 (5), 6-1.
The first set showed both players battling nerves and less than stellar play despite some very long rallies. Soderling was able to get to 0-40 on Djokovic’s serve at 4-5 but Djokovic came up with big serves to hold on and win the game eventually forcing things to a tiebreak. But Soderling was the one who held his nerve, especially after missing a backhand volley early on but sticking another one for a winner at 4-4.
Djokovic looked flat throughout and often berated himself for no reason. The second set he quickly went down 0-40 at 1-1. After a super long rally at 15-40, Djokovic tried a lame drop shot that went into the net giving Soderling the break at 2-1. Soderling broke him again at 4-1 and then again at 5-1 to win the match.
With the win, Soderling qualifies for the semifinals of the event and will move up to No. 8 in the world. Djokovic will next have to battle Rafael Nadal in a must win match for both to qualify for the semis.
Roger Federer made good on his promise to hit through Andy Murray and did so with relative ease winning their match tonight 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Federer started slow again with sloppy play, especially on his forehand, as he got behind 4-2 to Murray who served out the set 6-3.
In the second set, Federer broke Murray with aggressive returns to go up 3-2 and that’s when the tide shifted. Federer’s game improved as he cruised to a 6-3 second set helped by 19 winners as opposed to having only 2 winners in the first set.
Murray’s first serve let him down throughout the match as he was only able to muster 46% of first serves in. In the third set, Murray quickly got down 0-40 while at 1-1 and even though he shouted at himself to “focus” it wasn’t enough as Federer chipped and charged on a second serve at 30-40 forcing Murray to hit an errant passing shot wide allowing Federer the break at 2-1.
After that it was off to the races as Federer broke Murray twice more to seal up the final set 6-1. Federer is almost a dead lock for the semis now but Group A is still wide open. In the earlier match, Juan Martin Del Potro saw off Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1) even after Del Potro was up 5-2 in the final set before finally winning the tiebreak.
It wasn’t pretty but Novak Djokovic lived up to his pre-tournament favorite hype by finally winning his almost three hour match against Nikolay Davydenko in the first round of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Though it had shades of the brilliant match both played against each other in Shanghai, this match was more a battle of nerves and missed opportunities as Djokovic failed to convert on break point chances in the first set and allowed the Russian to hold on to win it 6-3.
It looked like Davydenko would hang on for the win until Djokovic, serving at 3-4, hit an ace that he thought had won the game. But a let was called forcing him to serve again. Djokovic won the point and regained his intensity allowing him to break at 5-4 and win the second set.
Djokovic broke early in the third set and went up 2-0. After holding his own in many of the extended rallies, Djokovic served for it at 5-4 but lost the game after Davydenko hit a screaming down the line baseline winner at 30-40. But the Russian couldn’t keep the momentum going as he hit three shots long to go down 0-40 and eventually lose the game. Djokovic finally served out the third set at 7-5.
Tomorrow Andy Murray goes up against Roger Federer while Juan Martin Del Potro takes on Fernando Verdasco. For all of Federer’s talk of “hitting through” Murray, Federer will need to clean up his game if hopes to win. The Del Potro/Verdasco match is hard to call. Both players really need to win as I see both of them of being the “weakest” players in the field.
Soderling Gives a Victory Howl (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images).
Robin Soderling lived up to his darkhorse billing in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals by earning a convincing win over Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4.
Soderling’s length of shot, especially on his forehand side, kept Nadal at bay throughout the match. After winning the first set, Soderling held his nerve especially while serving 2-3 in the second set. The game took eleven minutes and Soderling wasted multiple chances to close it out before finally doing so.
With Nadal serving to stay in the match at 4-5, Soderling stayed with Nadal during a very long rally and eventually forced a match point. Soderling’s forehand went long on the next point but he managed to get another match point with a backhand winner. The next point saw Nadal push a forehand long sealing the win for Soderling who let out a howl of delight.
After the match Soderling said, “I managed to play really well on the important points and served well throughout. There’s a long way to go but I’ve got off to a great start. Winning against the world number two is not bad. I’ve got to take one game at a time and hopefully come Sunday I will be pleased with how I’ve done.”
It’s a great win for Soderling but I’m a little perturbed at the use of the words “shock” and “surprise” by some over Nadal losing. Nadal has not played his best late in the season and Soderling was not in awe of Nadal or the surroundings. Whether Soderling can build on this win during the rest of the event remains to be seen, but he certainly proved his last minute arrival in London was not a fluke.
BTW, do you think Soderling could play a part in the “Twilight” movies? He certainly has the “fangs” for it.