Djokovic faces nervous wait

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Tennis / Tipsarevic stuns World No. 1; Nadal crashes out

Giant Killer: Janko Tipsarevic had the measure of fellow Serb Novak Djokovic in their Group A match. — Photo: AFP
Giant Killer: Janko Tipsarevic had the measure of fellow Serb Novak Djokovic in their Group A match. — Photo: AFP

Novak Djokovic faces a nervous wait to discover if his season has come to a disappointing end at the ATP World Tour Finals after the World No. 1 lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Janko Tipsarevic on Friday.

Djokovic has lost two of his three Group A matches in the season finale at London's O2 Arena, but he will still qualify for the semifinals if David Ferrer beats Tomas Berdych, while a Berdych victory would eliminate the Serb.

After a magnificent season which brought Djokovic three Grand Slam titles, five Masters crowns and top spot in the world rankings, the 24-year-old has finally run out of steam this week.

He arrived in London on an incredible run of 69 wins from 73 matches, but that record has been slightly tarnished by two successive defeats here.

It could have been so different after a bright start from Djokovic earned him a break in the fourth game of the first set.

Tipsarevic, called into the tournament as a replacement for the injured Andy Murray, knows Djokovic's game better than most after spending hundreds of hours on the practice court with his compatriot.

But the world No. 9, already out of contention for the semifinals after losing to Berdych, still couldn't find a way to stop Djokovic cruising through the rest of the set.

The tournament's complicated qualification criteria meant a straight sets victory would improve Djokovic's chances of advancing.

There was a noticable lack of bite to Djokovic's ground-strokes now and he was seemingly content just to keep the ball in court rather than go for winners. Tipsarevic made him pay in the opening game of the final set with a sublime angled volley to secure the decisive break.

Djokovic, clearly running on fumes, never threatened to mount a comeback and Tipsarevic put him out of his misery with another break to wrap up his first ever win over his old friend.

Tsonga ousts Nadal

Rafael Nadal crashed out earlier on Thursday as France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga prevailed 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3 in their thrilling shoot-out for a place in the semifinals.

World No. 2 Nadal had to win his final Group B match to join Roger Federer and David Ferrer in the last four, but the last year's runner-up bowed out after his second successive defeat in the season finale.

Tsonga's victory means he will play the winner of Group A in Saturday's semifinals, while Nadal — who is yet to win this tournament — will return home to rest his aching limbs before leading Spain's challenge in the Davis Cup final against Argentina.

With Federer safely through as group winner and Mardy Fish already eliminated, it was a straight fight between Nadal and Tsonga. The Spaniard had won six of his eight meetings with Tsonga, but the Frenchman could take heart from his previous meeting with Nadal in London, which he won at Queen's Club earlier this year.

Tsonga's cause was also helped by Nadal's late season fatigue. The 10-time Grand Slam winner suffered one of the more comprehensive defeats of his career on Tuesday when Roger Federer routed him 6-3, 6-0, and he admitted that he has been feeling the strain of a gruelling campaign.

The results: Group A: On Friday: Janko Tipsarevic bt Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; Doubles: Jurgen Melzer & Philipp Petzchner bt Robert Lindstedt & Horia Tecau 6-3, 6-4.

On Thursday: Group B: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bt Rafael Nadal 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3.

Group B: Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor bt Michael Llodra & Nenad Zimonjic 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 . — AFP

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