Djokovic downs Federer in thriller
Originally published on: 05/11/13 00:00
In a repeat of last year’s final, Djokovic survived a topsy-turvy second set to claim a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 victory at London’s O2 Arena.
The Serb, who is now unbeaten in his last 18 matches following victory at last week’s BNP Paribas Masters, snatched the opening set with a late break, surrendered the second set on a tiebreak before wrapping up victory in two hours and 22 minutes.
Federer, who lost to Djokovic in the Paris semi-finals last week, showed glimpses of his best as he romped through the second set tiebreak, but only after seeing the set nearly slip from his grasp having led 5-3.
But the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who has not enjoyed a win against a Top 5 opponent in 2013, was undone by his inconsistency as Djokovic broke twice in the final set to seal victory to set up a clash with Juan Martin Del Potro on Thursday.
"I just have to make sure I stay positive right now in my mind which I am. And I'm looking forward to the next matches," Federer said. "I think I just have to make sure I take it to my opponents rather than trying to make the plays too often, which I was trying to do today."
Earlier in the day Rafael Nadal began his title challenge with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over third seed David Ferrer.
The world No.1 broke six times, including the opening game, and always looked in command as he attacked Ferrer’s serve to win in just 74 minutes. A magnificent low forehand handed the 13-time Grand Slam champion his first set point, which Ferrer duly surrendered by hitting long.
And, despite a brief fight back from 5-0 down in the second, Ferrer, who hit 33 errors, found the net when defending match point to give his compatriot the Group A lead ahead of Stanislas Wawrinka. Nadal is now one win away from the year-end world No.1 ranking and appeared happy with the O2 court.
“It is a good start for me and a positive one but to win against Wawrinka and [Tomas] Berdych, I need to play my best,” he said. “It’s a surface that is favourable to them, or at least a little bit less to me.”
Ferrer, meanwhile, reflected on the loss just three days after he beat Nadal in the Paris Masters semis.
“To beat Rafael I need to be more focussed and have to be stronger mentally,” he said. “I have to be positive. It was a bad day but it is good to have a bad day in round-robins because I have a chance tomorrow and maybe on Friday.”
Meanwhile in the doubles, Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo made a memorable debut at The O2 on Tuesday as they defeated top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 3-6 6-3 10-8 in Group A.
In Group B, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek beat Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-3 5-7 10-8 in a repeat of the US Open final.