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Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

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Well, this tournament has seen its fair share of surprises. As I write this, David Ferrer is doing his on-court interview just after he beat Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-1.

It's the second consecutive night match that has gone rather quickly, which has caused a flurry of activity in the media room here at the O2.

It'll be hard for Djokovic to say his shoulder isn't a concern at this point, as he was broken five times and he made 33 unforced errors to 10 winners. 

Honestly, I'm not very surprised by this result. As I wrote yesterday, Djokovic spent almost as much time getting his shoulder treated by a trainer as he did hitting.

The question will be if he can recover well enough to beat his countryman Janko Tipsarevic in the final match of the group stage on Friday.

Meanwhile, Tipsarevic played a great match against Tomas Berdych but ultimately lost after he missed a backhand volley wide on his own match point.

In Berdych's last match, he missed a forehand on his own match point against Djokovic, who came back to win.

As you can see, Group A has been bizarre. The only thing that would make it stranger is if Berdych routed Ferrer on Friday, although that wouldn't impact anything because Ferrer has already qualified for the semifinals.

Anyway, enough about the results.

I started the day shooting a preview for tomorrow's (probably today's if you're reading this) Group B matches. We shot it outside of the entry way, which was strange because people would walk by and stare, and some even stood on the other side of the camera and watch as I flubbed my lines several times.

I've always had a lot of respect for those who do the kind of work I'm doing this week full time. The difference is I can do it over again, while they have to be accurate and eloquent on their first go. And not only that, but they have to deal with all of the distractions.

I did get through it, though, and I spent the rest of the morning shooting footage for my piece on what you can do around the O2 during the tournament. It's funny how walking around with a camera can attract a lot of attention, and while I was shooting video of the a certain display I had several people come up to chat with me about what I was doing.

I've discovered the media doesn't really venture outside of the press room, which is why seeing someone walk around with a camera and a media badge is unusual for the spectators.

The great thing about that was I ended up talking to some very passionate tennis fans. Some of them also asked me to take pictures for them, which was amusing.

Now, for three days I've been trying to interview one of the hitting partners for the players, but it hadn't quite worked out.

Finally I had my chance today, and I had a good talk with the guy. His name is Sam Barry, a 19-year-old from Ireland who has a ranking in the 700s.

He's tall and has a pretty good game, but against Nadal he struggled with the pace a bit. He's also hit with Nicolas Almagro this week, but he said Nadal's shot is, not surprisingly, tough to return because of the spin and the weight of the ball.

Look out for my interview with his coach, as we're going to talk about how a professional tennis player approaches practices during a season, among other things. It should be quite interesting.

Going back to Nadal, it's amazing how his technique is so good. If you watch his groundstrokes you can see the extension he gets in his motion, and he can pile on the pace with relative ease. Just when you think he's been wrong footed, he hits a flat crosscourt backhand winner.

One more comment about Nadal: he was obviously practicing flattening out any ball in the center of the court and being aggressive in preparation for his match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Last night he said if he leaves any ball short he will be in trouble, so it seems his approach to beating the Frenchman will be to take the initiative away from him by attacking.

Yet against Barry, he was quite erratic. Then again, the focus level is different in practice than in a match, so I'm sure we'll see a sharp Nadal. Especially since a spot in the semifinals is on the line.

Here's Nadal practicing with Barry: