David Ferrer, the lesser known Spaniard in the ATP World Tour Finals, burst out of Rafael Nadal’s shadow to reach the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday with a demolition job on world No 1 Novak Djokovic at the O2 Arena.
While Nadal’s place in the semifinals is still in doubt after his thrashing at the hands of Roger Federer on Tuesday, world No 5 Ferrer made sure he will be around at the weekend with a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of the year’s outstanding player.
In the day’s other match, Czech Tomas Berdych saved a match point against Djokovic's fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic to seal a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory which means the calculators may be needed to decide who finishes runner-up in Group A on Friday.
The complications mean Djokovic could beat Davis Cup teammate Tipsarevic, a stand-in for injured Briton Andy Murray, and still fail to go through while a defeat, providing Ferrer beats Berdych, would see him survive.
Whatever the maths, Djokovic said he would need to play “50 percent” better in his next match. “Nothing was going well. I don’t play at least 50 percent better than I did tonight,” he said.
In front of another sell-out crowd in the 17,500-capacity arena, Djokovic began solidly enough as the first six games of the match went with serve.
However, when the terrier-like Ferrer raced across court on break point to whip a forehand down the line that caught his opponent flat-footed at the net, the match ceased to become a real contest as the 29-year-old from Valencia ran way with it.
He broke the Djokovic serve again to win the opening set and he needed nothing spectacular in the second set as Djokovic offered little resistance. The Serb’s mounting unforced error tally spoke volumes.
“I’m embarrassed to look at the stats,” Djokovic, who made 33 unforced errors, said. “All credit to my opponent, he played a great match but, you know, I wasn’t there.”
“I think today was maybe my best match of the season,” Ferrer, the 2007 runner-up, told reporters. He also explained his shrug of the shoulders celebration after winning match point.
“The gesture was for surprise. I beat the world number one in two sets.”
World No 9 Tipsarevic, one of the year’s most improved players, can no longer reach the semifinals after his defeat by Berdych although he can content himself with his $70,000 fee for being an alternate and the $120,000 participation fee after replacing the injured Andy Murray. He should also have banked another $120,000 for a round-robin victory but a skewed volley on match pointproved extremely costly.