World number one Novak Djokovic (pictured) was eliminated from the ATP World Tour Finals Friday, while the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych clinched a spot in the semi-finals thanks to his win over David Ferrer.
REUTERS - World number one Novak Djokovic followed Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray out of the ATP World Tour Finals on Friday when he lost to fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic for the first time.
As round-robin action concluded at the O2 Arena a jaded-looking Djokovic was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-3 to end Group A with two defeats and one victory and leave Roger Federer as the only member of the 'Big Four' to reach the weekend.
Djokovic would still have squeezed into the semi-finals of the season-ender through the back door had David Ferrer beaten Tomas Berdych later on Friday but the Spanish dynamo also appeared to run out of steam, going down 3-6 7-5 6-1.
After staring elimination in the face when he twice went a break down in the second set, Berdych roared back to win Group A and thus avoid a semi-final against holder Roger Federer who is red-hot favourite for a record sixth title at the tournament.
The Czech instead faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the charismatic Frenchman who sent Nadal packing on Thursday, in one semi-final while Ferrer's punishment for letting Berdych off the hook is a clash with Federer who he trails 11-0 in career meetings.
"I never win against Roger and I hope I can change that," Ferrer, who led 4-3, 40-15 in the second set against Berdych, told reporters before walking away rather stiffly to try and recover for Saturday's first semi-final.
Djokovic's exit means the top three players in the world all failed to survive the group stage although in Murray's case he withdrew after his loss to Ferrer with a groin injury.
Tipsarevic, who replaced Murray, walked off with earnings of $190,000 after finishing his year with a first ever victory over close friend Djokovic -- $70,000 as his fee for being the on-site alternate and $120,000 for his sole win.
While he was delighted with his victory, Tipsarevic admitted his opponent, winner of three of the year's four grand slam titles, was not firing on all cylinders.
"I'm not trying to undermine my performance or my victory today, but I can freely say that this was not Novak Djokovic from the U.S. Open or Wimbledon," he said.
Djokovic, who will holiday with Davis Cup team mate Tipsarevic in The Maldives next week, admitted the tournament had been a bridge too far.
"My body says that it's overload," Djokovic, who ended the year with a 70-6 record after his first back-to-back defeats since March 2010, told reporters. "It has been too much this year. Obviously, mentally I feel a little bit drained."
Djokovic began the match aggressively, striking the ball into the corners with relentless accuracy and pace.
A single break of serve was enough to claim the opening set and he still looked comfortable early in the second as the goatee-bearded world number nine Tipsarevic hung on grimly.
Gradually, however, the fizz went out of Djokovic's groundstrokes and a match that he appeared to have in his pocket suddenly began to drift away as Tipsarevic began to dictate many of the baseline exchanges with some venomous hitting.
He broke in the sixth game when Djokovic netted a lazy dropshot attempt but surrendered the advantage immediately.
Some ragged play, including a double fault by Djokovic at deuce, then helped Tipsarevic break again for a 5-3 lead and he held serve to level the match.
Tipsarevic carried his momentum into the third set and broke with an angled winner after dragging Djokovic to the net with a poorly-disguised drop shot that should have been punished.
By the time Djokovic buried a forehand into the net to end the contest he appeared to be running on empty.
Ferrer had already qualified for the knockout stage and looked on the way to matching Federer's 100 percent group record before he suffered an astonishing collapse against Berdych.
The powerful Czech seized on Ferrer's slump midway through the second set to turn the match around and reach the semi-finals in only his second appearance at the elite event.
Not even a change into a garish pink shirt could spark Ferrer back into action as the final set slipped away after 31 minutes of Berdych's domination.
"This shows my game has progressed and I can fight back and win these matches, I'm able to fight back," said the world number seven.
Date created : 2011-11-26