Jamie Murray and John Peers edged by Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea 6-3 7-6(5)
Kei Nishikori def. Tomas Berdych 7-5 3-6 6-3
Roger Federer def. Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-2
LONDON, UK – Jamie Murray & John Peers face a tough fight to qualify after losing their second round robin match, while Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer were winners on day three of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
The conquerors of the top seeded Bryan Brothers pulled off another confident straight sets win, as they dented the British hopes on show for the day.
It turned out to be a bit of a tough day at the office for the Brits as the first set got away from them fast with an early break of serve, and although they put up a good fight to try and secure the break straight back, it was not to be, almost broken at the end of the set but staving off two break points to force them to serve it out.
The second set was a lot tighter, with just one exchange of breaks and some great shots between them, including one of the best reflex shots you will ever see. With the Commonwealth pairing nudging into the lead, it looked like the momentum was with them, but the chance to force a match tie-break came and went in a single mini-break.
Kei Nishikori def Tomas Berdych 7-5 3-6 6-3
With both players searching for their first win, this had the makings of being one of the more entertaining matches so far in the tournament. Nishikori was the one doing the hustling at the start of the match, pushing Berdych hard, forcing him to save two break points, before finally being rewarded once more at the end of the set, this time needing three break points before he converted one.
It looked as though the Japanese No. 1 was going to run away with it as he broke Berdych right at the start of the second set, consolidating to leave the Czech on the back foot.
But just as quickly as the momentum had come, Berdych picked up the pace as Nishikori threw in a sloppy game to allow Berdych back into the match, as we went into our first three-setter of the tournament.
Much like the first set, it was Nishikori making more chances for himself, again putting Berdych under pressure early on but not quite able to make good on a couple of break point chances. He was finally rewarded for his patience when once more he broke at the end of the set, serving out confidently to love to get his first win on the board, leaving Berdych with a mountain to climb, as he faces Djokovic next.
Nishikori said, after the match: “It was much better than first match. My serve went in much better than first match. Had a more good percentage for my first serve. Strokes, too. I thought I was being very aggressive. These courts are really slow, have more time to step in. I thought there were many good shots for me. I mean, I had a bad game in second set at 2-1, and after that he started playing better. That was kind of my fault that I give him little bit chance to come back for the match. Third set I tried to stay there all the time, more consistency, less unforced errors for me. Very happy with my game today.”
Berdych had to contend that perhaps he was unlucky to concede the last set:
“I was playing well in the third. I was the one having a first chance having a breakpoint in the third set. Had a good rally, had a good position to finish the ball, but I just didn’t make it. Then he took the chance. He break me next game. That was it.”
Roger Federer def. Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-2
Talk about going off-script! Already within the first couple of games it was clear to see that the quality of the match was going to high. It was a very competitive first set with neither player giving an inch after Djokovic had a sole break point in the first game.
Bruising rallies, deft groundstrokes, and perhaps the cruelest kick in the final game of the first set, when Federer made good on his second chance to break Djokovic to nab the first set.
Some tit-for-tat breaks at the start of the second set arrested any ideas that Djokovic had to strike quickly, but his forehand started to let him down as Federer hit Djokovic hard not once but twice to break for the match.
Not even a cheeky challenge on the second match point could save the defending champion, as Hawkeye proved to be a Federer fan, giving the Swiss a pass into the semi-finals with no painful scenarios to mull over.
There were no real attempts by Federer to throw in the now infamous SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger) but given the speed (or indeed lack thereof) of the court, that did not come as a surprise to Djokovic, when he came in immediately for hos post-match conference:
“The court is playing a little bit slower than maybe US Open or Cincinnati, the last couple times we played against each other. I think that’s where he felt maybe he can spin the ball and wait for a shorter ball from my side and come in, which he did. He tactically played well.
“Undoubtedly, he was the better player on the court. But I think I also allowed him to play and penetrate through the ball and dictate the tempo from the baseline. As I said, I didn’t have this follow-through on my shots, no depth honestly, many mistakes. Basically if you play this way against Roger, you have no chance. I was hoping that when I broke back in the second, I’m going to start playing better, but it just wasn’t to be today.”
As confident as Federer is, the make up of round-robin format does change the mentality of the player, no matter how competitive they want to be, as Federer explained:
“I wouldn’t have picked it maybe before the tournament, you know, just because of his really good record on the indoors, the year he’s had, especially with the run he’s been on. I focused more on beating Berdych and Nishikori and let’s see what happens against Novak.
“That shows me that I didn’t expect this victory. But then again, all day I felt good about my chances. It was clear in my head how I wanted to play. Once the match went on, I felt like, I’m with him, I’m serving well, could play better from the baseline maybe at times, but he was doing a good job there. We were just staying with each other really.”
The pressure is now off for the Swiss, as he plays now for position of qualification in the group. Only if Berdych defeats Djokovic and he loses to Nishikori will he finish in second position. But the impact of that will become more clear after Group Ilie Nastase take their turn.
Play begins with doubles at 12pm on Wednesday, with Andy Murray facing Rafael Nadal not before 2pm, and Stan Wawrinka v David Ferrer, not before 8pm (all times GMT).
Main Image Credit: Julian Finney/Getty
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