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.
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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.
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For a moment it looked like the erratic play of Roger Federer late in the season would continue as he dropped the opening service game in his match against Fernando Verdasco at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Verdasco, who had never won a set against the world No. 1, finally did through steady play and solid serving to go up 6-4.
In the second set, Verdasco stayed right with Federer throughout. But Verdasco’s sloppy attempt at a smash overhead on the baseline that went awry gave Federer the opening he needed to take the second set 7-5.
After that it was all Federer as the wheels came off of Verdasco’s game while Federer’s forehand finally found its mark allowing Federer to seal the victory 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Tomorrow Rafael Nadal opens up against Robin Soderling while Novak Djokovic, the pre-tournament favorite, takes on Nikolay Davydenko. I actually like Soderling in the first match as recently Nadal has been very vulnerable indoors. Djokovic should win against Davydenko but will be interesting to see how much gas “Nole” has left after winning the last two events in a row.
By the way, kudos to the ATP for staging the ATP finale in London. The arena has been packed for each match and the play so far has lived up to the superstar billing. Hopefully this will finally allow the finals to be the “fifth slam” the ATP has dreamed of.
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The singles draw of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was announced today from the London Eye. Here’s how it broke out.
Roger Federer (SUI)
Andy Murray (GBR)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Robin Soderling (SWE)
Even with his recent losses, Roger Federer is probably the man to beat. How he handles del Potro, whose been struggling with injuries, and Murray with a “home” crowd and surface that suits his game will be the question. Verdasco, has an outside shot, but probably is just happy to be there.
Group B has the pre-tourney favorite Djokovic coming off red-hot wins in Basel and Paris. But has he peaked too early? And don’t discount Davydenko who beat Nadal in Shanghai and the always dangerous Soderling who’s glad he didn’t land on Federer’s side.
Predictions: I’m going with Federer and Djokovic winning the most matches in their groups followed by Murray and Davydenko. That could set up a Fed/Davydenko and Murray/Djokovic semifinal. And then I like Djokovic going all the way.
And don’t forget the doubles either which has a battle for number one brewing between the current top seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic against the Bryan brothers.
According to the London Times yesterday, Andy Roddick was preparing to announce he was withdrawing from the Barclays ATP Finals in London due to his ongoing knee injury. The internet was abuzz with the rumor and waited for the news.
Well, we’re still waiting.
As of now, Roddick is still officially in the field although Robin Soderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the official alternates should Roddick bow out.
At last year’s ATP finale in Shanghai, Roddick lost his first round match to Andy Murray then withdrew from his next match due to an ankle injury. If Roddick does withdraw prior to the finale start, he would at least give Soderling a chance to win the whole thing and avoid the injury plagued drama of that WTA season ending event in Doha where alternates Vera Zvonareva and Agnieska Radwankska were called up to play with no hope of winning the event.