Novak Djokovic Below Par is Enough to Beat Tomas Berdych and Clinch Spot in London Semi-Finals - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

Novak Djokovic Below Par is Enough to Beat Tomas Berdych and Clinch Spot in London Semi-Finals

Ivan Pasquariello

Published

on

Novak Djokovic puts together a similar performance to the one that saw him lose in straight sets against Roger Federer on Thursday at the ATP World Tour Finals. A below par Djokovic is though enough to beat Tomas Berdych 6-3 7-5 in 1 hour and 29 minutes. The Serb was assured a place in the semis after winning the first set. Four of the top five ranked players on the ATP World Tour will play in the semi-finals.

 

 

He needed one set, one set only to be sure he would still keep his bid to win 4 consecutive championships at the ATP World Tour finals alive. No one has ever done it before, and Novak Djokovic’s run to tennis history is yet to come to a halt. After all, against a player like Tomas Berdych – whom he had beaten 2o times out of 22 – even a below par Djokovic was enough to sail through, securing at least one set.

Analysing the meaning of below par, even a World No.1 capable of only firing one single winner, to 8 unforced errors, was enough to win a set by 6 games to 3 against the World No.6. The truth is that Novak Djokovic was a dull copy of the player seen so far in the season, something much closer in its essence to the player who lost in straight sets to Roger Federer in London on Tuesday.

Unable to dictate the play, hardly moving as fast as we have seen him doing all year long, the first player to miss on a regular basis in 5-shot or more rallies, clearly the Serb is struggling to find his best self in London this year. After a brilliant performance against Nishikori in his debut match at the O2, Novak has hardly been himself again. Passive in his shot making, almost to the point where he doubts his weapons, the same ones that have let him dominate the tour almost unbeaten this year.

The slower surface of the O2 Arena should help the Serb create his “Spider Web” – as Federer likes to call it – but is surprisingly working as a counter-punch to the Serb’s consistency.

That said, even winning just 52% of the points on first serve, and a -7 differential between winners and unforced errors, only firing one single winner on his backhand throughout the entire match, having no baseline winners to his name in the first set, Novak has managed to find a way and win the match in straight sets.

Rather than a disappointing performance then, the Serb can see this victory as a blatant revelation of his superiority on the rest of the field in men’s tennis. Sure Berdych helped, once again falling victim of his nerves and melting like snow in the sun on the most important moments, once again unable to find the extra something he needs to take the lead against the top competitors in the sport.

Djokovic needed one set, and took two. The Serb may have lost his first match since August two days ago, his first indoor match in three years, but he still is in the game. Right after beating the World No.1, Roger Federer said: “I see Novak as the favourite to win still. He is going to do well against Berdych and then in the semis he will be the favourite to win the tournament again to me”.

And that same feeling spreads across tennis experts, fans and competitors. After all, Djokovic has built a mental invulnerability that tells him he can still find a way out even when things don’t look great, even if his tennis is not responding to the Robo-Nole commands.

Now the tournament presents the semis with 4 of the top 5 players competing. The Serb is the favourite, because when tournaments hit the latest stages, he tends to be the one finding that extra sparkle and fire to tore off the competition and finish on top.

It has been a recurring story this year on the tour. Now the Serb has to fight for history.

 

MATCH REPORT

 

Novak Djokovic (SRB) b. Tomas Berdych (CZE)

O2 Arena, London

RR Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

 

Head-2-Head = Djokovic leads 20-2

 

Qualification Outcomes

  • Berdych wins in 2 sets = Berdych advances to the semi-finals
  • Berdych wins in 3 sets = Djokovic advances to the semi-finals
  • Djokovic wins in 2 sets = Djokovic advances to the semi-finals
  • Djokovic wins in 3 sets = Djokovic advances to the semi-finals

 

THE FIRST SET

 

Djokovic breaks in the second game attacking to lead 2-0. In the third game, Berdych breaks back to trail 1-2.

 

The Serb has three chances to take the lead again, when Berdych misses an easy forehand long to go down 0-40. Berdych saves all three break points, one with a first serve and then firing two consecutive aces. The Czech challenges Djokovic’s backhand and surprisingly as the rallies grow longer, it is Tomas who gains the edge. Djokovic so far looks a very close version to the player who lost to Federer in straight sets. With another first serve, Berdych saves the game and holds to set the score tied at 2-2.

 

The Czech has another chance on Djokvovic’s serve up 15-30 after winning an impressive point at the net with a backhand volley winner. The World No.1 reacts right away to regain the lead in the game and the set, closing the game with a first serve. 3-2 Djokovic.

 

As the match continues in being a baseline battle, it is the Czech who seems more capable of finding aggressive solutions to win the rallies. Berdych is the first player to take control of the court, advances at the net at 40-30 and closes the game with a stunning backhand drop volley to set the score at 3-3.

 

So far in the match, Novak Djokovic has only hit one single winner and 7 unforced errors, compared to Berdyhc’s 10 winners and 10 unforced errors. Clearly the Serb isn’t playing at his best, but is enough to keep the lead in the set at 4-3.

 

As it happens many times, Berdych feels the nerves when the match gets closer to a deciding moment. The Czech from 30-15 hits first a forehand and then a backhand both just wide, to face a break point at 30-40. Tomas uses his first serve yet again to exit trouble. Djokovic however finds a sparkle of brilliance right when he needs it the most. The World No.1 attacks Berdych’s backhand to get another chance to break at 40-A. As a response, Tomas fires an ace, the 4th in the match, to get back to deuce. On the following point, Berdych kills a forehand in the net and Djokovic has his 3rd break point in the game. This time, the Serb breaks thanks to a terrible unforced error committed by the Czech. Berdych fires a strong first serve wide, but then decides to step on court and try to close the point with an airborne forehand which finishes in the net. Djokovic breaks and leads 5-3 to serve for the set.

 

Djokovic has his first set points up 40-15. While on the first the Serb hits a backhand long, on the second Berdych hits a backhand return long. Djokovic wins the set 6-3 in 42 minutes and mathematically secures his access to the semi-finals.

 

Djokovic closed the set with 1 winner and 8 unforced errors. Berdych with 12 winners and 18 unforced errors.

 

With Djokovic qualified, 4 of the first 5 players in the rankings reach the semi-finals in London.

 

THE SECOND SET

 

No matter the score in the set, the semi-finals are already decided in London for the Stan Smith group, with Federer advancing as first and Djokovic as second in the group.

 

The second set starts with 3 break point chances for Djokovic, who breaks at 30 and takes an early lead up 1-0. The Serb soon leads for 2-0 and it seems the match is heading towards the predicted finish.

 

Despite being virtually already out of the tournament, Berdych has a reaction of pure pride as he strikes full swing and breaks back to trail 1-2. The Czech continues to push the Serb and the service games of both players start to go away easyer. With Berdych holding serve to 30 in the 7th game (despite a stunning forehand return winner from Djokovic on 40-0) the Czech now leads 4-3.

 

Knowing there is not much more than pride at stake, the match fails to pull the strings of excitement. Both players manage to stay strong on their serve. Djokovic serves down 4-5, but wins the game with a forehand winner, his 10th winner in the match.

 

At 5-5, the World No.1 has a chance to close the match as he raises to 0-30 on Berdych’s serve. The Serb gets to triple break points at 0-40. On the first chance, Berdych catches the net on a backhand drop volley and the ball barely bounces in Djokovic’s half of the court. On his second chance, Djokovic attacks Berdych on the forehand, the Czech hits long and Novak closes the game to lead 6-5.

 

Djokovic serves for the match in the 12th game after 43 minutes since the start of the second set. The Serb gets to match point attacking with his forehand on Berdych’s backhand to lead 40-15 as Tomas hits a defensive slice wide. Djokovic closes out the contest with a first serve on which Berdych returns a chopped forehand in the net. Djokovic wins 6-3 7-5 after 1 hour and 29 minutes.

He advances to the semi-finals as second in the Stan Smith group, after Roger Federer.

Djokovic closes the second set with 9 winners and 8 unforced errors, finishing the match with 10 winners and 16 unforced errors. Berdych loses with 26 winners and 31 unforced errors to his name. The Czech has dominated the play, but has failed to win the most important points, yet again.

Hot Topics

‘I Tried Everything’ – Frustrated Roger Federer Reacts To ATP Finals Exit

The 20-time grand praises his rival, but questions if mental toughness played a role in their match.

Published

on

LONDON: The only consolation for a frustrated Roger Federer is that he is exiting the ATP Finals without any injury woes.

 

The six-time champion was denied the chance of winning the title for the first time since 2011 after suffering straight-sets loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Bringing a bitter end to a season where the 38-year-old has claimed four ATP titles. None of which were at a grand slam tournament. In his latest match, the Swiss Maestro struggled at times to generate consistency in his game as he leaked 29 unforced errors.

“I tried everything I could, to be honest,” Federer said during his press conference. “I tried to chip it, tried to stay back and hit some. I tried to come forward. And for the most part, I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive, but of course with his aggression, it’s not always easy because he always takes the ball very early himself too.”

Federer’s error tally was not the most troublesome aspect of his game, it was his break point success rate of only one out of 12. Shortly after this match, Tsitsipas said he said he was happy to handle what felt like a ‘mental struggle’ to him on the court. However, Federer has a different viewpoint.

“Spinning it (the ball) into the body and then getting an error, I don’t know if that’s, like, mental toughness.” He argues.
“Sure, he didn’t double fault, he didn’t do anything silly, and he’s tough as nails.’
“I’m frustrated that I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again.”

The 38-year-old now has a 2-2 head-to-head record against his younger rival, who was just a four-year-old when he made his debut at the ATP Finals back in 2002. He also lost to him at the Australian Open.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to reach the final of the season-ending event and the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009. He has reached nine ATP finals so far in his career with six of those occurring this year.

“He’s tall and he’s strong up there (upper body). He can loop it and come down on it, and that’s why I also believe he’s good on faster courts and on slower courts. It’s going to be very beneficial for his career.” Federer said of his rival.
“Obviously it’s his footwork that’s always on the aggressive side. Any short ball will be attacked, and I think he does that very, very well. He’s one of the best at that in the game.”

When a member of the NextGen scores a notable win, there is always the same question. Is the change of guard in men’s tennis coming soon? This year they are four players in the ATP Finals under the age of 23 for the first time in a decade.

“I look at the list of who finished World No. 1, who has been World No. 1 all these years, and it’s just crazy that it’s always one of us (the big four). But we are not getting any younger. So chances increase not because we are getting worse but because they are getting better, I believe.” Federer concludes.

Federer will now fly to South America where he will play in a series of exhibitions next week.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Youth Prevails As Stefanos Tsitsipas Stuns Six-Time Champion Federer At ATP Finals

A shock win has taken the Greek into the final of the season-ending event on his debut.

Published

on

LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has ensured that there will be no member of the Big Three in the finale of the ATP Finals after taming third seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Tsitsipas, who is 17 years younger than the 20-time grand slam champion, was relentless in his intensity he battled to a 6-3, 6-4, victory at The O2 Arena. Recording his second win over Federer this year after the Australian Open.

 

In his latest match, the Next Gen player impressively saved 11 out of the 12 break points he faced as he hit 18 winners. Meanwhile, Federer struggled behind his second serve as he won only 11 out of 24 points played. Bringing his season to an end.

“Wow, Jesus. I’m so proud of myself today.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview. “It was a great performance. Once again the people (crowd) were great and I really enjoyed my time on the court.”
“Sometimes with matches like this you always wonder how you can recover from all those break points down. It’s like a mental struggle, so I’m really proud that I was able to save so many break points today.” He added.

In previous meetings between the two, the serve has been detrimental to the outcome of the match. Since his loss to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, Federer has gone on to defeat the Greek twice without dropping serve. Furthermore, this week in London both men have been impressive in that area of their games. Heading into the semi-finals, Tsitsipas has won 95% of his service games and Federer had won 90%.

It wasn’t long into their latest encounter when the usually reliable Federer service game buckled. In the second game of the match a failed smash from the Swiss Maestro, followed by a winning forehand from Tsitsipas gave the ATP debutant the early break. Tsitsipas’ breakthrough proved decisive to the outcome of the opener as his rival failed to convert a series of golden opportunities. Six times Federer had the chance to break, including two when the world No.6 was serving the set out. Continuing to prevail on the clutch moments, Tsitsipas sealed the 6-3 lead with the help of a 133 mph serve down the center of the court.

It looked as if the 21-year-old would eased his way to the surprise win as he once again capitalized on a lackluster service game from his opponent early in the second set. However, this time Federer finally found a way to break Tsitsipas’ brick wall defense to revive his chances.

Despite the temporary change in momentum, Tsitsipas continued to pounce like a lion. Forcing his rival to be continuously under pressure as he broke once again to restore his lead. There was little Federer could do to change the outcome as the Next Gen star roared his way to victory. Closing out the match with an ace out wide. Prompting him to drop his racket out of disbelief.

“I was trying not to give too much time to Roger.” He commented on his match tactics. “He was playing good and shout out to him as well. He played pretty good this week.”
“Playing him is the biggest honor I can have. Today’s victory is probably one of the best matches of my season.”

Tsitsipas will play either Alexander Zverev, who he defeated earlier in the week during the group stages, or Dominic Thiem. He has a negative head-to-head record against both of those players.

“I have no preference (of who I play).” He said. “I played Sasha in the groups. Obviously, anything can happen in the final. Sasha proved that to us last year in the finals. He was defeated by Novak and then went on to beat him. I just need to be super careful and have a good schedule ahead of my next match.”

Tsitsipas is the youngest player to reach the final of the tournament since Juan Marin del Potro back in 2009.

Continue Reading

Focus

ATP Finals 2019 Day 7 Preview: Roger Federer Continues Chase For Record Seventh Title

Who will advance to the championship match at the biggest non-Major event of the year?

Published

on

Roger Federer is a six-time champion of this tournament, but it’s been eight years since he last prevailed.  Sascha Zverev is the defending champion, but 2019 has been a disappointing year with only one title at a 250 event.  Dominic Thiem elevated his hard court game this year with three titles on this surface, and is now just two wins from the biggest title of his career.  And 2019 has been a breakthrough year for Stefanos Tsitsipas with 51 match wins to date, but can he recover from a physically and emotionally draining loss to Rafael Nadal just 24 hours ago?

 

Roger Federer (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6)

This will be their fourth career meeting, all of which have occurred this year.  Back in January, Tsitsipas made a name for himself by defeating Federer on his way to the Australian Open semifinals.  But in their last two matches, both on faster-paced hard courts, Federer won all four sets by a score of 6-4.  Roger played magnificently against Novak Djokvoic on Thursday, defeating him for the first time in four years.  He’ll certainly be the fresher of the two, as Tsitispas played for nearly three hours in a competitive loss to Nadal just yesterday.  Even though Stefanos is 17 years younger than Roger, he certainly won’t be the fresher player today.  Federer has lost in the semifinals of this event two years in a row, but he should be favored to break that pattern and advance to his 11th championship match at the ATP Finals.

Dominic Thiem (5) vs. Sascha Zverev (7)

Thiem owns a commanding 5-2 record against Zverev, though they haven’t played in nearly 18 months.  And three of Dominic’s victories came while Sascha was still a teenager, and before Zverev had ascended to the top of the game.  Thiem was most impressive in defeating both Federer and Djokovic during the round robin stage, but did not play his best on Thursday, losing in straight sets to Matteo Berrettini.  Darren Cahill on ESPN said Thiem has been battling flu symptoms over the past few days.  Zverev meanwhile looked sharp in taking out Daniil Medvedev last night in straight sets with his tournament life on the line.  If Sascha can continue serving well, I like his chances to return to the final at the O2 for the second straight year.

Other Notable Matches on Day 7:

In the first doubles semifinal, Wimbledon and US Open champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus (5), champions at Halle and Washington this year.

In the second doubles semifinal, Winston-Salem champs Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (2) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (7), champions at the Australian Open and the Paris Masters.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending