BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2012
Djokovic Finishes Group A With Perfect Record; Rolls Into London SFs
by James Buddell|
Top seed Novak Djokovic looks intent on finishing the 2012 season on a high. The 2008 titlist came through Group A with a 3-0 record after he completed a 6-2, 7-6(6) victory over fifth seed Tomas Berdych in his final round-robin match on Friday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The match lasted one hour and 38 minutes.
“I played a lot of matches this year, but for the first time I won all three in my group,” he said. “This is very encouraging for me, so I will try to focus on the semi-final now.”
The two-time year-end World No. 1 recorded his ninth straight win over Berdych in 85 minutes at The O2 in London. The pair has now met at the season-ending championships for the third straight season.
Djokovic, who is now 11-1 against Berdych, hit 18 of his 30 total winners in the second set. He hit seven aces and improves to a 73-12 match record on the year. Berdych, 27, drops to 7-12 against Top 10 players in 2012.
Djokovic swept through the first set, losing five points on serve in a devastating display of speed and power. Showing great willingness to attack the net, the Serbian hit 13 winners and capitalised on 11 unforced errors from Berdych, who failed to convert his only break point opportunity in the fourth game. Djokovic broke serve in the third and fifth games to clinch the 34-minute set.
Djokovic looked to seize control at 1-1, when Berdych was jammed up on a forehand at 30/40. But in the next game, the Czech set up two break point chances at 15/40, returning with power as a net-rushing Djokovic volleyed a backhand wide. Berdych was starting to pick up quick points on his first serve, mixing up the pace and direction to keep Djokovic guessing. But Berdych was left frustrated at 6-5, when, with Djokovic serving at 15/30, he mis-timed a forehand long down the line.
Berdych went on the attack in the tie-break. He chipped and charged on the second point, finishing with a fine backhand drop volley and went onto take a 3-0 lead. A double-fault on the next point didn’t prove costly, however, as Berdych overcame the blip and moved to 6-3. But then, inexplicably, under no extreme pressure, he committed three straight groundstrokes errors to squander three set point opportunities. Djokovic won his fifth straight point, to wrap up the match, when Berdych hit a forehand return long.
“I just try to have a simple thinking, fight every point that I have,” said Djokovic. “Guess it works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't work. I'm glad it worked today.”
Djokovic could face six-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals, and considered the Swiss a favourite at The O2. “Definitely considering his success he had on this court; he's been playing really well,” he said. “He hasn't dropped a set. If we get to play each other, it's always a challenge. Whoever plays him, Roger is always playing consistently well, especially in such a big tournaments.”
Berdych was looking to reach the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for a second straight year. He admitted, “It was quite close set. I had some chances in the tie-break. It wasn't one of my best matches with him.” When asked about next week’s Davis Cup final versus Spain, he said, “I hope that the best moment is still to come.”