Friday, November 27, 2009

ATP World Tour Finals: Days 5-6

Group A
A. Murray d. F. Verdasco 6-4 6-7(4) 7-6(3)
J.M. del Potro d. R. Federer 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3

Group B
N. Djokovic d. R. Nadal 7-6(5) 6-3
N. Davydenko d. R. Soderling 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3

Say what you want about this WTF tournament, but almost all of the matches have been tightly-contested (see the tiebreaks above) and been real nailbiters (the semifinalists on both sides weren't decided until the last round robin game was played).

There's a nice symmetry between the two groups. We have two Spaniards (Verdasco and Nadal) who went 0-3. We have Murray and Djokovic who won their last matches, but had to wait to see if they made it into the semis. They both didn't. Del Potro and Davydenko needed to win and they did against the eventual winner of both groups, Federer and Soderling.

The real story has been the complexities of the round robin format especially in breaking ties. According to the ATP Rule Book, in case of a three-way tie, which happened to both groups, final standings would be based on matches won, sets won, and then finally highest percentage of games won. So what happened?

Group A came down to highest percentage of games won with Federer (52%) and Del Potro (51%) edging out Andy Murray (50.6%). If Del Potro had lost one more game or if Murray had won one more game in his past three matches, both would've switched. Group B came down to sets won with Soderling (5-2) and Davydenko (5-3) posting better results than Djokovic (4-3). Not as close as Group A, but it still came down to ONE set.

Semifinal Previews

R. Federer [1] v. N. Davydenko [6]
J.M. Del Potro [5] v. R. Soderling [8]

Federer will hope his fantastic 30-2 record against the three remaining players will get him the final title of the season, but the key match tomorrow will be Del Potro-Soderling who have both impressed in this tournament with their booming serves and lethal forehands.

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