Djokovic thrilled as Berdych spills
Originally published on: 21/11/11 23:40
Novak Djokovic stared down the barrel of defeat against Tomas Berdych but fought back from match point down in the final set to grind out a 3-6 6-3 7-6(3) triumph in his Barclays ATP World Tour Finals opener.
Far from his best in his first competitive encounter since withdrawing from the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters earlier in the month with a shoulder injury, the world No.1 seized his chance to close out the match as Berdych’s nerve failed him.
The Czech had got off to a blistering start, motoring into a 4-0 lead before closing out the opening set, and though the world No.1 hit back in the second, Berdych pummelled his dagger sharp forehand to all corners before breaking in the eighth game of the decider.
Just when it looked like he had Djokovic firmly on the ropes, Berdych’s mental fragility reared its ugly head again as the world No.6 served two double faults before the four-time Grand Slam champion brought proceedings back on serve.
With Djokovic far from firing on all cylinders, Berdych might still have fancied his chances, particularly given that he held a 15-6 tiebreak record for the season as opposed to the Serb’s 10-8 losing record in shoot-outs. But with missed opportunities still on the mind, the 6’5 right-hander approached the net for what should have been a simple put away only to fluff it woefully long. From there on, it was lights out.
“All the credit to his game,” Djokovic said after sneaking his 70th victory of the season. “I think it was an incredible match. Throughout most of the match he was the better player.
“I don’t think I was top of my game tonight but you have to hang in there and take your chances.“
Victory puts the Serb second in Group B, behind David Ferrer after the Spaniard defeated Andy Murray in straight sets earlier in the day.