Was Wednesday’s Group B action at the O2 arena dramatic or torturous? Was it World Tour Final-worthy or just WTF?
Robin Soderling beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (5), 6-1 in a match that started out testy and ended up tanky. I doubt Nole gave up on purpose, but he certainly didn’t look too happy to be on the court as the slammin’ Swede pounded his way into the WTF semifinals. Novak – who’s played more matches than anyone on tour this year – was about as patient on the court as a cabbie driving through a herd of goats at the end of a 14 hour shift.
“I didn’t enjoy playing today’s match, that’s for sure,” Djokovic told reporters afterwards.
Nole will face Rafael Nadal in his final round robin match, which he must win in order to advance to the semifinals. He doesn’t sound too motivated: “I don’t know. I will see. I’m very tired. It’s just fatigue of the whole year.”
Nadal vs. Djokovic will be an interesting match, psychologically, for both players. In some way it’s fitting that Rafa – who fell out of semifinal contention with his straight-set loss to Davydenko on Wednesday- could be Nole’s spoiler in the final tournament of the year. Rafa already spoiled the bulk of the season for the Serb by winning their epic battle at the Madrid Open this spring. Djokovic said recently that he suffered a “a little mental breakdown” after that match and has just recently recovered in time to salvage his season. Will Rafa give him a pass, saving whatever energy he still has for the Davis Cup finals next weekend? Or will he try to use this match to build up his flagging confidence?
Davydenko must be feeling good, recovering better than Nole did after their tough three-set battle on Monday and taking out the World No. 2 convincingly. As much as I enjoy a crisp tactical display from the fleet-footed Kolya, this match made me sad. Rafa was just so. . .gutted. The Tennis Channel commentators were joking that Rafa’s career was over, which added a dour tone to the broadcast.
Rafa admits that he’s far from his best right now: “I feel a little bit more tired on court than before probably because I didn’t have this continuation in this second half of the year. When I play a few tough points, I feel more tired to play the next ones. That’s very important in this sport. I don’t know how far I am from my best.”