|Berdych came from a set down to beat Ferrer 3-6 7-5 6-1 to secure his place in the semi-finals [GALLO/GETTY]|
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.
On the final day of round-robin action at London’s O2 Arena a jaded-looking Djokovic was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-3 to end Group A with two defeats and one victory.
Djokovic would still have crept into the semi-finals through the back door had David Ferrer beaten Tomas Berdych later but the Spaniard went down 3-6 7-5 6-1.
After staring elimination in the face Berdych ended up winning Group A and thus avoided a semi-final against holder and red hot favourite Roger Federer.
The Czech will take on 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 the unbeaten Federer.
Djokovic’s exit means three of the world’s top four failed to survive the group stage although in Murray’s case he withdrew after one match here because of 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.
|A late call-up and a win over old friend Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic is $190,000 better off [GETTY]|
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 US Open or Wimbledon,” he said.
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 off his Davis Cup team mate and he still looked comfortable early in the second set 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 drop shot attempt but surrendered the advantage immediately.
Some ragged play, including a double fault 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.
Djokovic never looked like recovering and by the time he buried a forehand into the net to end the contest he appeared to be running on empty.