(November 9, 2012) -- With all the various scenarios floating around on how those competing in Group A of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals could reach the semifinals, the number one was the only numeral anyone needed to keep track of during the first match between Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych.
One, as in the number of sets Djokovic needed to win today in order to qualify for the semis, and one in the number of times Berdych had beaten the Serbian in twelve previous meetings.
That the math didn't look likely to add up for Berdych may have been floating through his mind during the first set when he dumped a backhand into the net to give Djokovic an early break for 1-2. Berdych missed his own chance at a break point and then suddenly found himself down a double break at 1-4.
When Djokovic closed out the first set 6-2, thus clinching his spot in the semis, it seemed like yet another routine win for the Serbian especially after he notched another break early in the second set.
But Berdych's level actually rose as he started stepping into the court more during the rallies with Djokovic. Berdych broke back and started finding the range on his forehand wing. With Berdych now staying even with Djokovic late in the set, it was Djokovic who started looking frustrated at the turn of events.
Up 6-5, Berdych missed several key forehands that would have been winners allowing Djokovic to send the set into a tiebreak. Berdych kept up his momentum as he launched out to what seemed at first to be an unsurmountable 5-1 lead.
But though a third set loomed, it was still up to Berdych to close out the tiebreak. After bombing an ace to go up 6-3, Berdych waited for Djokovic to respond. He did so by holding both his serves thus throwing the pressure back on Berdych to serve it out at 6-5. Djokovic blasted a return at Berdych's feet that caught the Czech by surprise thus forcing an error and leveling the breaker at 6-all..
And that was the match. Feeling the pressure, Berdych missed a forehand on the next point and that set up Djokovic who calmly ended proceedings with a big serve to seal a 6-2, 7-6(6) win.
Djokovic, now a perfect 3-0 in round robin play, wins Group A and waits to see the results between the next match between Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray must win a set to advance to the semis while Tsonga must beat Murray in straights in order to qualify.
Defending Doubles Champions Ousted in Round Robin Play
Earlier in Group B round robin action in the doubles event, the defending doubles champions from last year Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor were eliminated from contention after Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna beat them 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-5 to advance to the semifinals.
(Photo Credit: Andy Kentla)