(November 5, 2012) -- For Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray who are members of Group A, also known as the "Group of Death" at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, today's goal for both was just to survive with a win as both are scheduled to face each other later in the week.
Andy Murray, who was back playing in the United Kingdom for the first time since winning the U.S. Open, needed a few sets before he displayed his Grand Slam winning form against Tomas Berdych in the opening singles match. Despite being considered the best returner in the game, Murray squandered seven break points chances in the first set as Berdych went on to take the set 6-3.
Murray finally converted on his 11th break point chance to go up 3-1 in the second set after Berdych sent a forehand long. From there, Murray held onto his advantage to secure the set 6-3 and force a decider.
Despite both men only serving 55% first serves for the match, it was Berdych who unable to make inroads on Murray's second serve and that proved decisive as another overcooked forehand from Berdych gave Murray a break for a 2-1 lead in the final set, forcing Berdych to play catchup from then on.
But with Murray serving for the match at 5-4, nothing was certain considering Murray had lost his last three matches, including last week in Bercy to Jerzy Janowicz, after holding match points. Murray double faulted on his first match point, but a netted backhand from Berdych on the second one gifted Murray a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
Murray hit 36 winners compared to Berdych's 28 and overall felt good about his opening start in London.
“I thought I started the match well. I just didn't quite take my chances early on. Both of us I thought served pretty well (and) weren't losing too many points on our first serve. It can hinge on a couple points here or there," Murray said afterwards.
Djokovic Takes Control Over Tsonga
The second singles match of the day saw top seed Novak Djokovic face No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a matchup that was expected to go Djokovic's way despite the always flamboyant style from the Frenchman who is now coached by Roger Rasheed.
Tsonga's only real chance came in the first set when he had three break points against Djokovic. But a diving Djokovic saved all of them and eventually forced a tiebreak and, after opening up a 4-1 lead, he assumed control winning it seven points to four.
An early break of serve for Djokovic in the second set sealed Tsonga's fate. Though Djokovic hit a rather casual down the line backhand winner to go up 3-1, Tsonga stayed close with Djokovic until, when down 3-5, Tsonga played a too casual game himself filled with errors including a smash sent straight into the net. A final error from Tsonga gave Djokovic a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory and, for the moment, put him at the top of Group A.
“The opening set obviously could have gone either way," said Djokovic on ATP.com "To be quite honest, he was the better player throughout the first set. I faced many break points, and I didn't have any in the opening set. I managed to serve well, play well, stay mentally tough, and tried to fight my way through."
Bryan Brothers Fall to Spanish Duo
Though the Bryan Brothers had beaten Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez three times during the regular season, it wasn't enough as the Spanish team earned a rare victory over the top seeds in the doubles event. The Bryans held a match point in the final super tiebreak, but their inability to convert eventually set up a match point for the Spaniards who won 5-7, 7-5, 11-9.
Earlier in the day, Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor saved a match point on their way to defeating Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt 4-6, 7-6(1), 12-10.