Saturday, 17 November 2012

WTF Day 6: Cold Mathematics

Cold mathematics, making its move on me now.*

Juan Martin del Potro def. Roger Federer 76(3) 46 63
David Ferrer def. Janko Tipsarevic 46 63 61

Showboating into the semi-final
There is an invisible benchmark in the round robin formats of the World Tour Finals and the Year End Championships that suggests that winning two of the three group stage matches is enough to see a player through to the semi-final knockout stages.  David Ferrer was the player this year unfortunate enough to be the exception proving that  mathematical calculations often yield an unfair result.

In reality, though, it is all Roger Federer's fault that David Ferrer's two group stage wins were not adequate to see him through to the semis.  All the Swiss seed needed to do, was to defeat Juan Martin del Potro, ending the group with three wins, and with Ferrer capturing the spoils in his match against the Argentine he would have qualified for the knockout stages with two wins to del Potro's one.  However, for most of the last half of the year, del Potro has had the number of the former number one on a hard or indoor court, his 6'5" frame capable of exposing Federer as half-a-step slower than four years ago.  Indeed, with del Potro nearing the form that took him to the Flushing Meadows title in 2009 he frequently looks the stronger and the quicker of the two men on court when they play.  Federer will always be able to rely on unimaginable skill to pull off a shot that no one thought possible, but in a straight shoot out his power is often lacking.  And this is best exploited by the ferocious hitting of the Argentine giant, as it was in their three set encounter at the O2 arena.  Game set match to the #6 seed as the margins grew bigger in the final set.

In defeating Federer, del Potro made it statistically impossible for Ferrer to qualify, despite the Spaniard's win over the Argentine on the second day of the competition.  With two wins apiece the scores reverted to sets won/lost, and with Ferrer failing to take anything away from his match against Federer he would only be left with a total of four after his win against Tipsarevic, del Potro qualifying by virtue of the three-set match the two played on Tuesday.  With this in mind it is creditable to Tipsarevic that he still tried to go for the win, despite him being unable to qualify and he salvaged 1 set from a week in which he had been largely outclassed.

Final Group Standings:

Roger Federer 2-1 (win loss); 5-2 (sets for against); 40-31 (games for against)
Juan Martin del Potro 2-1; 5-3; 42-34
David Ferrer 2-1; 4-4; 41-46
Janko Tipsarevic 0-3; 1-6; 18-40

Group B when it was announced the weekend previously, was considered the more straightforward of the groups to predict - with the other group stacked with potential upsets.  Federer was heralded as the runaway group winner and Tipsarevic out of his depth and propping up the group.  Ferrer was expected to join him in the semi-finals, having the edge over del Potro in their rubber.  As it was, Federer came up against unexpected opposition and Ferrer was denied a post-group stage place.  The rule-book being forced into play to separate the top three in Group B.

*Lyric from Cherry Ghost - Mathematics

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