Top-ranked Novak Djokovic came back from a set and a break down to beat Juan Martin del Potro and book a spot in tomorrow’s championship match at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The 25-year-old from Serbia defeated the 24-year-old Argentine 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 at London’s O2 arena. Djokovic, the 2008 champion at the season-ending event, remains undefeated this week in London.
“It’s a big win for me,” Djokovic said in a court-side interview. “He was the better player in the first set but I managed to turn it around. I just told myself to stay out there fighting,” said the Serb, who had lost the bronze medal match at the London Olympics to Del Potro.
The six-foot-six Del Potro had characterized the semifinals line-up as “three big names and one big guy,” with Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray contesting the other match.
Del Potro made Djokovic run all over the court in the first set as he attacked him on both wings with his flatly struck forehand.
Djokovic held his hands on his hips after he missed an easy smash at 3-3 that bounced before the net to hand Del Potro a break point. Although he held for 4-3 as Del Potro hit a forehand into the net, the Serb was broken in his next service game as the sixth-seed kept on applying pressure from the back of the court with groundstrokes of more than 100 miles-per-hour. Del Potro served out the first set to love with a backhand winner.
The match seemed over after Djokovic got broken again early on in the second set with a blistering forehand.
Del Potro Errors
Instead, he got the break back for 2-2 as the Argentine started to make unforced errors. Del Potro, who qualified for the semifinals yesterday by beating Federer in three sets while Djokovic had the day off, seemed a step slower after that. Now Djokovic was in command in the long baseline rallies as he broke once again for a 5-3 lead.
Djokovic forced a deciding set on a mishit forehand. The Belgrade-born player quickly went up a double-break, and served out the match as his opponent hit a return into the net.
“I tried to stay positive, stay composed,” Djokovic said. “It worked another time,” added the five-time Grand Slam champion, who twice beat Federer in the semifinals of the U.S. Open from match points down.
Federer and Murray’s meeting later today will be their third this season in London.
Second-ranked Federer has lost 10 of 18 matches against Murray. The Swiss beat the third-ranked Scot at Wimbledon in July, a result that reduced his opponent to tears afterwards. A month later, Murray got the better of Federer in the Olympic gold-medal match.
Federer, the oldest man in the eight-man field at 31, won the year-end championships for a record-extending sixth time last year. Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras are next with five titles.
Murray, 25, is trying to become the first British man in the tournament’s 42-year history to play in the final. He rewrote the tennis history books in September by beating Djokovic in the final of the U.S. Open, ending Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion.
To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at London’s O2 arena through the London sports desk at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser in London at firstname.lastname@example.org