4. (4)David Ferrer d. (6)Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 [2:16 h]
The hottest indoor players this season (Ferrer 12-1 record, Del Potro 18-2), which sounds funny given the fact Argentines and Spaniards were considered for many years as clay-court specialists. Despite playing third consecutive week almost day by day, Ferrer’s footwork was outstanding. The Spaniard was a dominant figure in the first 12 games, being close to get the first set even 6-1. At 1-all in the 2nd set, Del Potro survived his service game after 6 ‘deuces’ and 4 break points, one of them awarded to Ferrer after Lars Graff’s mistake – the Swedish umpire, who is finishing this year his career on chair, confirmed linesman’s call ‘out’ on Del Potro’s outright winner. ‘The Tandil tower’ came back from *1:4 in the decider to the tie, but Ferrer played crisply in the 10th game obtaining final break to ‘love’. “It was a really tough match, [it] was very close [and] we had very good rallies,” said Ferrer. “I’m very happy with my game. Maybe this year, I am playing more aggressive with my shots. I am going to the net more to finish the points.” Del Potro has lost four straight matches to Ferrer in four different conditions (clay, hard, grass, indoors) – in the last twelve months.
3. (2)Roger Federer d. (8)Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-1 [1:09 h]
Tipsarevic deserves to play in London because his ranking-advantage over the next two players amounts 475 points, however, in my opinion his adherence to “the tennis elite” is doubtful, he is distinctively below “second big 4” in terms of potential damage. Federer exposed it on Tuesday, breaking the Serb four times, and being taken to ‘deuce’ just once in eight service games. The Swiss improves their H2H to 6-0 (five easy wins) extending winning streak at World Tour Finals to 11; it’s his 40th win at ‘Masters’ events – moves him out of tie with Ivan Lendl for the most wins at the tournament. “I’m happy with my level of play today against Janko, who is obviously a good player. I think it’s nice conditions here. I’ve had a good year. It’s true, I feel like I’m striking the ball well after today. I hope it’s a sign for more to come hopefully.” said Federer.
Group A – first round: Day 1
2. (1)Novak Djokovic d. (7)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4), 6-3 [1:39 h]
There was one interesting circumstance preceding the match – Djokovic, the best player of the last two years, arrived to London having lost four consecutive matches indoors (two last year at Masters, one at this year’s Wimbledon, and another one last week in Paris). The lack of wins indoors was visible in Djokovic’s shots in the 1st set, he found himself a couple times off balance. Tsonga was optically better until the tie-break. Perhaps his new coach Roger Rasheed (their second tournament together) invented new tactics for his pupil – Tsonga, the fifth player this year in number of aces, hit just one ace in the 1st set due to mixing up the speed, but held six service games easily, playing more sliced backhand than usual. Djokovic in the last two games of that set dived twice, lost points on both occasions, but it didn’t discourage him to further attacks, one of them was crucial in the tie-break (gave him a 4:1 lead). The 2nd set was totally under Serbian control, he broke twice to notch 5th win over the Frenchman in 2012.
The opening set of the tournament was a bit deceptive in terms of the scoreline. Murray blew seven break points in total, in three different games. He had some rallies at those chances but usually Berdych was able to escape with either big serves or powerful drive-volleys. The Scot, playing in a new outfit, reminded in the two following sets he is a brilliant on-court thinker, he started to hit ground-strokes closer to the baseline, implemented variety of shots, attacked the net a couple of times, increased the speed of serves (didn’t drop a point on 1st serve in the deciding set!). The crucial breaks for him came at 2:1 in the 2nd set and 1-all in the decider. “I think it was a very, very good and solid match, from both of us. Unfortunately, small details just decided it today. I think the biggest moment was in the second set, 1-1, when I had [three] breakpoints.” said Berdych referring to missed opportunities. Murray ties their H2H to 4:4, it was their fourth match this year (3:1 Murray).