Friday, 25 November 2011

Tsonga upsets Nadal to reach semis

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga qualified for the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals with a 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal.  It was one of the best matches of the week and although I thought the quality dipped at times, it was an intriguing encounter and very watchable.  The first set saw no breaks of serve, but Tsonga dominated proceedings.  Nadal lost the first point on practically every one of his service games in the first set, but he dug deep to force the tiebreak.  Tsonga was too strong in the tiebreak as he exhibited some superb net skills with four drop volleys.  He produced nearly four times more winners than Nadal in a superb first set.

Tsonga thoroughly deserved to win the first set.

The second set continued to go with serve and Nadal kept plugging away.  At 4-4, Tsonga looked to be closing in on the match at 15-30 on the Nadal serve, but he appeared to get a little tight and before you knew it, Nadal had held and then exploited a mental weakness in Tsonga to claim the second set.  Tsonga finally managed to break Nadal in the third set and he eased into a 5-2 lead.  Once again, Tsonga felt the jitters as he threw in three double faults to give Nadal a chance.  However Tsonga closed the door shut in the next game as he broke to love winning the match on a thumping forehand.

Nadal did well to force a third set, but was missing a spark.

I thought Nadal didn't play badly, but there was a spark missing - he has never looked at home on indoor courts and he also admitted afterwards that he has lost his passion for tennis a bit at the end of another long, tiring season.  Tsonga definitely deserved to win; he was attacking, aggressive and instinctively brilliant at the net.  He is the most likely candidate to trouble the top 4 next year although I still question his mental toughness.  He has shown several mental wobbles in matches this year, which is what stops a lot of these talented players (Tomas Berdych is another example) from regularly challenging the top 4. Tsonga has shown promise though with some big wins over Federer and last night's performance included.  At the moment, I think the final will be a repeat of the first match of the tournament between Tsonga and Federer.

Tsonga will fancy his chances of powering his way to the final... his opponent in the Semis is yet to be decided.

In the remaining match from Group A yesterday, Roger Federer beat Mardy Fish, 6-1 3-6 6-3 to finish the round-robin stage unbeaten.  This afternoon, Novak Djokovic lost to Janko Tipsarevic, 3-6 6-3 6-3.  I only watched the first set and was mightily impressed by Djokovic who was firing on all cylinders.  It sounds like once again, tiredness played a part in his downfall.  Surprisingly, Djokovic can still qualify from Group B if David Ferrer beats Tomas Berdych tonight... I think for his sake, he might prefer Berdych to win because in the form he has shown this week, he would be annihilated by Federer in the Semis!

This was the first time this year that Djokovic had lost two matches in a row.