Rafa-Nole Semi Puts Verdasco Into WTFs
Posted by gauloises1 on November 13, 2009
The London World Tour Finals is set, courtesy of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who defeated the remaining contenders Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling in the Paris quarterfinals this afternoon.
Nadal-Tsonga was by far the better match, it must be said. Soderling was wound visibly tight and Djokovic appeared exhausted, especially during the second set which he dropped 16, but in the end too many unforced errors cost Soderling. It was a ground-out win rather than domination by Djokovic, but a win all the same. Good stuff.
Nadal was probably the surprise of the day. Tsonga was picked as the favourite coming in by more than a few pundits, but really Rafa was unrecognisable as the same person who played Almagro and Robredo. I thought he was serving brilliantly and hitting his forehand really well to stave off five break points in the early stages of the match, and from then on he didn’t look like losing. As for Tsonga, he wasn’t playing badly but terrible shot-selection cost him at the biggest moments. It’s Nadal’s first win over a top 10 player since Madrid and would seem to signal a welcome return to form.
The elimination of Tsonga and Soderling gives Fernando Verdasco a lock on the no. 8 spot in the race, meaning we’ll be seeing him in the 02. I would have really liked to see Soderling qualify, just because for me his achievements and the way he’s played this year have been stunning, but Verdasco’s had the best year of his career too – no question. So congratulations to him.
Soderling and Tsonga will presumably be lined up as first and second alternates for London – if they chose to play. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.
It’s also worth noting that Nadal, Nole and JMDP all have opportunities to gain big points here and close the gap on those ahead of them in the rankings – although in JMDP’s case that may be a pipe dream. Still, there’s a lot of potential for ranking changes as a result of the last few matches of the year,* which I think is cool. Keeps things interesting.
*May not be true, I’m just repeating what I hear because I hate looking at the numbers.