WTFwatch: Nadal seals Verdasco’s London slot
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:50
Rafael Nadal’s 7-5 7-5 quarter-final win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the BNP Paribas Masters 1000 has sealed countryman Fernando Verdasco’s place at the World Tour Finals, as well as keeping the world No.2 in the hunt to end the year at the top of the world rankings.
Tsonga, defending champion at the Paris indoor event, needed to win the event again to reach the season finale by right, but he faced a very different Nadal to the player who had come back from match points down in his first two matches.
The Frenchman dominated much of the first set with some blistering ground strokes, but saw five break points come and go without a breakthrough. Gradually Nadal took the sting out of his opponent before breaking in game eleven and serving out the set.
The second set took on a similar pattern, although the errors, particularly tactical ones, were more frequent from the home favourite. Once again, Nadal broke at 5-5 as Tsonga played an untimely string of poor points on serve.
The result completes the line-up for the World Tour Finals, which begin on 22 November at the O2 Arena. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick, Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco are the automatic qualifiers.
Tsonga may still feature in London if one of those eight withdraw. Andy Roddick, who has been out of action since pulling up with a knee injury in Beijing, is yet to announce his return to full fitness.
Nadal, meanwhile, remains in with a slim chance of overtaking Roger Federer at the top of the rankings by the year’s end. He next faces Djokovic, who earlier ended Robin Soderling’s bid to overtake Verdasco with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 win.
The Swede was left kicking himself after failing to take his chances against a below-par Serb and wasting eight of nine break points in the first set to draw level at 4-4. However, three unforced errors in the very next game allowed Djokovic to break straight back and the Serb served out the set.
After being blitzed during the second set Djokovic survived chances for an early Soderling break in the third. But the world No.3 dug deep to see off the danger. Soderling blinked first in game eight to seal his fate.
“I’m very pleased to go through, it was a big struggle,” said Djokovic. “Mostly I was fighting myself today. In the second set I was not moving well and I was letting him control the match but in the end I managed to hold the nerves and focus.”