Andy Roddick does a good poker face. Time and again he has insisted that he would rather look at the upside: of being able to live his dream of being a top tennis pro, than the downside: of not being able to win as much as he would have liked given the obvious talent he has.
But on days like these, it must be frustrating to be Roddick. Twice in two matches, at the ATP world tour finals, he has taken the lead in the match, only to hesitate when he should be going for the kill. Luck played its part in his narrow defeat to Rafael Nadal in the first match on Monday.
Against Tomas Berdych, the tournament debutant, the American seemed to be battling with larger issues. After he let a double set point slip away on Berdych's serve, he went into a tailspin to lose 5-7, 3-6 in an hour and 25 minutes.
The 25-year-old Czech had admitted to being nervous in his first match against Novak Djokovic, but quickly looked at home on the big stage. It was Roddick, who has qualified for the ninth straight time for the season-ending Masters, with his burden of experience, who looked shaky. And all it took was a little nudge of attacking intent from Berdych.
Having been unable to use those two break opportunities, Roddick served a poor game next up to hand Berdych the first set. He never recovered from that emotional dip. The signs were evident as he desperately sought help from the Hawkeye replay software. He did it twice on two points on the same line looking to wish it to be in when the screen above clearly disagreed with him.
The second set score stood at 3-2 in Berdych's favour. At the change of ends, Roddick whacked the racquet, and got into a long argument with the chair umpire. "I was more angry with myself than anyone else," he said, "He was the only one there to talk with."
With two defeats in two matches, there is only a slim mathematical chance of Roddick making it through the round robin. "There is always some hope in tournaments like these. Even if it's only false hope."
Vying for Maradona’s attention
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have enjoyed the support of Diego Maradona during their opening matches at the World Tour Finals but the Argentine soccer great will have split loyalties when the duo meet on Wednesday.
Maradona has been a regular visitor this week to the O2 Arena on the Thames riverbank and his presence has energised Djokovic, who thumped Tomas Berdych on Monday. "He's going to stay throughout the whole tournament. Hopefully he can be my lucky charm," Djokovic told reporters.