Tennis: Nadal fights back to deny Roddick
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal came back from a set down to beat Andy Roddick 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in their first match of the ATP World Tour Finals in London last night.
Nadal, who had lost four straight matches at the season-ending event for the top-eight players in the world, was a set and a break down when he finally started to play at his best.
Although Roddick took advantage of his dominant serve, recording 17 aces in the match and playing serve-and-volley tennis, Nadal was able to control the action when the ball was in play.
Last year, Nadal lost all three of his round-robin matches. He skipped the 2008 tournament because of injury, and lost in the 2007 semi-finals.
"I started the match nervous, without rhythm," said Nadal. "Andy is a very aggressive player and it was very difficult. He can rally from the baseline and from the net, it's very difficult to pass him. The atmosphere here is fantastic, I'm very happy to win."
In the other game in Group A yesterday, Novak Djokovic turned the tables on Tomas Berdych with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory.
The last time this pair met in London was in the Wimbledon semi-finals this summer when Berdych eased to a straight-sets triumph before losing to Rafael Nadal in his first Grand Slam final.
That was the only time in four previous meetings that the Czech has got the better of Djokovic, though, and his form since Wimbledon has been indifferent, to say the least.
What Berdych needed was a good start, but instead he made the worst possible one by conceding a break in the first game. Djokovic had four more chances in an epic third game but this time his opponent just about held on.
Berdych was not helping himself with a woeful display of serving and it was not until he had cut out the double faults and found some first serves that he began to at least find a foothold in the match.
The odd bright spot aside, it was not the sort of tennis the decent-sized crowd had come to see and the biggest cheer was for Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona, back at the O2 for a second successive day.
Another error-strewn game from Berdych handed Djokovic two set points and he duly converted on the first. In contrast to his opponent, the Serb was in good form, particularly at the net.
Djokovic, the 2008 champion, made it four games in a row by breaking again in Berdych's first service game of the second set and, although the 25-year-old did eventually stop the rot, it was far too late to change the outcome of the match.
On Sunday, Roger Federer and Andy Murray won their opening Group B matches and will face each other today. David Ferrer will go up against Robin Soderling in the other match.