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ATP World Tour Finals 2012: Djokovic eases past Tsonga; Bryans upset

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djokovic_delightNovak Djokovic won his opening match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to get off to a solid start in the round robin stage. Djokovic defeated last year’s finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets 7-6(4), 6-3 at the O2 Arena here in London. In a match where he rarely got out of 3rd gear, the Serb raised his game at the right times to outplay the Frenchman in an hour and three quarters. For Tsonga it was an in the shell performance that doesn’t befit the flamboyant Frenchman’s style and the lack of passion eventually told in an uninspiring performance. Earlier top seeds the Bryan brothers were shocked by the Spanish duo of Lopez and Granollers in a champions tie break 7-5, 5-7, 11-9. The Spaniards are making their debut in the year end finale but held their nerve in the tense moments to upset the top ranked Americans. Djokovic next plays Andy Murray on Wednesday while Tsonga takes on Tomas Berdych.

Novak Djokovic began brightly going up 40-0 in his opening service game before surprisingly going tentative as Tsonga began to get into the points. The Frenchman had stated pre match that he wanted to be consistent, and it was exactly what he did using the slice to good effect. Djokovic did eventually hold after saving breakpoint with a lucky net cord but Tsonga held on comfortably to keep the match on serve in the early going. Both men continued to hold serve while gradually improving their level of play – Tsonga was hitting his forehand with authority, while Djokovic was serving efficiently and setting up the points with consummate assurance as the pair split the first 6 games at 3-3. The 7th game is noted as a crucial one in any set and Tsonga had the chance to make it a game changer as he sat on a forehand pass at breakpoint. He dragged it wide and Djokovic held on by the skin of his teeth to lead 4-3. A brace of comfortable holds then meant that Tsonga served to stay in the set at 4-5. The Frenchman held on and then for the third time had a break point on the Djokovic serve at 5-5. The Serb saved it with a service winner and Tsonga held to love to take the set to the inevitable tie break. Djokovic got the early mini break when Tsonga sailed his backhand long and the Serb rode that to a 4-1 lead with superb movement at the net. That early lead was all that Djokovic needed as he held serve to 6-3 and took the set 7-4 when Tsonga hit a forehand wide under pressure.

Djokovic kept his powder dry for most of the first set and rarely got out of 3rd gear. That proved sufficient as a misfiring Tsonga played a poor game to hand Djokovic the early break in the second. It was the ideal situation for the Serb to take a stranglehold on the match and Novak held to 2-0. Tsonga made an effort to be more aggressive in an effort to find a way back into the match, but the Serb was having none of it. Djoker put the clamps down on any attempts on his own serve holding to love to move into a 3-1 lead. Tsonga to his credit kept holding to keep himself within touching distance. The Frenchman used his serve and forehand to good effect to keep himself in the match at 2-3. Both players continued to hold firm on their serve as Djokovic kept his nose ahead at 4-3. The match ended in a whimper rather than a bang as Tsonga surrendered his serve with a wide volley to lose the second set 6-3.

Earlier in the day, Andy Murray kicked off his ATP World Tour campaign by battling back from a set down to beat Tomas Berdych, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Final Scores:

N.Djokovic d J.W.Tsonga 7/6(4), 6/3

M.Lopez / M.Granollers d B.Bryan / M.Bryan 7/5, 5/7, 11/9

File Photograph Copyright: Australian Open