Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2013 Contents A61
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
LONDON---Former finalist Juan Martin
del Potro battled his way past Richard Gas-
quet to win his opening round-robin match
at the ATP World Tour Finals yesterday
after Stanislas Wawrinka grabbed the spot-
light with a win in his maiden appearance
at the season-ending tournament.
After Wawrinka defeated Tomas Berdych
6-3, 6-7 (0), 6-3 in Group A, Del Potro
beat Gasquet 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5 to secure
crucial points in a tough Group B that also
includes Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic,
who will be facing off today.
After the round-robin stage, the top two
finishers in each group advance to the semi-
Playing in the tournament for the first
time since 2007, Gasquet produced some
stunning shots but struggled to return del
Potro s big serve in a match laced with
unforced errors and winners from both sides.
Gasquet said he was disappointed by the
result, his sixth loss in seven matches against
Del Potro, but took some comfort in the
way he lost.
"The level is very high. So every match
is a final for me," Gasquet said. "Tonight
I played well, I was really close."
Del Potro, who hit 35 winners and made
40 unforced errors, was relieved to come
out on top ahead of two difficult match-
"This tournament means a lot to me," he
said. "In the end, I played solid and I won.
Hopefully I can beat (Djokovic and Federer)
but it s going to be really tough for me. I
don t have anything to lose against them."
Gasquet and Del Potro started their match
with a 32-shot rally won by the Frenchman,
who then comfortably held his serve at love.
Del Potro answered with his trademark big
winners and won his first three service
games without dropping a point before Gas-
quet earned two break points in the eighth
game and converted the second with a back-
hand down the line.
But Gasquet failed to build on the
momentum as his opponent broke back
Both players traded brilliant shots in the
tiebreaker, as Del Potro s clever drop shots
and passing shots answered Gasquet s fine
volleys. Gasquet s all-risk approach finally
paid off as he sealed the set with two brilliant
In the second set, del Potro rallied from
40-0 down in the fourth game to break
Gasquet s serve. He served out the set after
Gasquet shanked an easy overhead that
would have given him two break points in
the ninth game.
In the decider, Del Potro broke for a 4-
3 lead but wobbled at 5-4, offering three
break points to his rival with a double fault
and letting him back in the match by missing
a simple volley. Gasquet s resurgence was
short-lived, though, as del Potro capitalised
on the Frenchman s mistakes to break again
immediately and then finish him off on his
Stepping out of the shadow of Federer,
Swiss No. 2 Wawrinka marked his first
appearance at the tournament with a vic-
Wawrinka---the only first-time qualifier
in this year s tournament---recovered from
a slump in the second-set tiebreaker to win
a contest that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours, with
the help of a large group of Swiss support-
"They wanted Roger and they had me,"
Wawrinka said. "I m not trying to compare
myself with Roger. But I m really, really
happy we are both in the tournament. I
think it s something really special for
Switzerland. He s a really close friend. We re
not in the same group, so we can really
enjoy playing here together."
Wawrinka and Berdych are in the same
group as top-ranked Rafael Nadal and David
LONDON---Despite all of his success this year,
Rafael Nadal still hasn t sewn up the year-end No
1 ranking. At this stage in his career, though, that
hardly even matters anymore.
After coming back from a career-threatening knee
injury to capture 10 titles this year---including two
Grand Slams---Nadal has already exceeded almost
everyone s expectations in 2013. He also overtook
Novak Djokovic for the No. 1 ranking last month,
although the Serb has a chance to win it back this
week at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
Regardless of what happens in London, Nadal will
consider the year a massive success.
"I ve already finished the year as the World No. 1
(before)," said Nadal, who finished on top in 2008
and 2010. "If it happens again, it will be perfect, but
the story of my season is not the No 1 spot. The story
is that I was able to come back, to win and to be
competitive again in a short spell of time."
Since returning from a left knee injury that sidelined
him for seven months, the 27-year-old Spaniard has
reached the final of 13 of the 15 tournaments he s this
season, winning the French Open and US Open along
He needs to win just two matches in London to
clinch the No 1 spot while Djokovic must win the
tournament to have a chance.
"I had a sensational season and I would not (trade)
all the emotions I went through (for) being the No
1," Nadal said ahead of his first round robin match
against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer today.
The London tournament, which brings together
the eight best players of the season, is the only major
title still missing from Nadal s collection of trophies.
Nadal qualified for the event for the ninth straight
year but his best result in the event is a runner-up
finish in 2010.
Drinking a milk-shake and smiling at the start of
his news conference, Nadal s mood darkened when
he was asked about his failure to win the indoor tour-
"We qualify by playing on all surfaces, but the tour
finals are always on hard courts," said Nadal, suggesting
that the ATP should rotate the surface to give players
an equal chance of winning. "One of the small reasons
(I did not win) was fatigue, one of the main reasons
was I have never been a fantastic player on the indoor
surface. Also I have been unlucky. The tour finals
have been indoors from 2005 until now, so I am a
bit unlucky with this. For me it is more fair to have
it outdoors on different surfaces." (AP)
For Nadal, No 1
ranking is no
longer a main prize
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina
celebrates winning at match point
during the ATP World Tour Finals
tennis match against Richard
Gasquet of France at the O2 Arena in
London, yesterday. Del Potro won 6-7
(4), 6-3, 7-5. AP Photo
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