Djokovic passes Berdych test, woe for Murray
LONDON - World number one Novak Djokovic clawed his way to victory over Tomas Berdych in his opening match at the ATP World Tour Finals on Monday but Andy Murray’s prospects look bleak after a groin injury flared up in his shock defeat by David Ferrer.
Djokovic, who arrived in London with question marks over his right shoulder, showed all the qualities that have made him the year’s dominant force, digging himself out of trouble to win 3-6 6-3 7-6 after saving a match point deep in the decider.
Murray, the form player in the world since the U.S. Open, was tipped by many to win the title in London but after a 6-4 7-5 defeat to bustling Spaniard Ferrer he faces an uphill battle to reach the semifinals even if he can continue. The 24-year-old Scot said he was “gutted” after the injury he sustained while practicing for the season-ender hindered him during an error-strewn two-hour defeat.
“Yeah, I mean, I had a problem with my groin. I have to see how it goes for tomorrow,” Murray, who had never lost to Ferrer on any other surface than the Spaniard’s favourite clay, told reporters. “I’ll decide tomorrow whether or not I keep playing. If it wasn’t slams or this event, I wouldn’t have played.”
While the atmosphere in the O2 was a little flat as Murray labored, it was electrifying in the night session as 17,500 fans, many waving Serbian and Czech flags, crammed into the huge arena that will stage the event until 2013. After losing the opening four games Djokovic gradually found his range although he still had to recover from 4-2 down in the decider before Berdych finally ran out of firepower.
“That was the toughest match since the U.S. Open,” Djokovic, who won three of the year’s majors and grabbed the number one ranking from Rafael Nadal, told reporters. “I wasn’t very satisfied with my performance but a win is a win.”
Despite having blue tape plastered over his shoulder, Djokovic said he had suffered no recurrence of the injury that forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters this month.
“Something I’m happy about is my condition,” he said. “I’m exhausted because it was three hours but I feel physically fit.”
Another slew of Berdych forehand errors in the tiebreak, one of them worthy of a park hacker, gave Djokovic breathing space and he sealed victory after two hours 38 minutes.