Simon d. Verdasco, 6/1 6/3
Kamke d. Berdych, 6/4 6/1
Ah, London. The Great Wen. It’s so close, you can smell it. The luridly blue O2 Arena, hordes of hoarsely hollering Brits, photo-shoots featuring double-decker buses. The cash (oh, the cash!). The elite of men’s tennis. Tomas Berdych.
If you can’t win a Slam – and most chaps not named Rafael or Roger clearly can’t – then getting to the Tour finals in London is about as good as it gets. Five of the eight places have already been filled, by the Big Four and the Swede-most-likely Soderling. With a bare two weeks of the regular season remaining, there are now six guys desperately vying for those remaining three spots. Now is the time to bring your A-game, give 110%, and INSERT MOTIVATIONAL LINE HERE.
Still, even with it all to play for, it wasn’t particularly shocking when Fernando Verdasco and Tomas Berdych succumbed to vigorous man-handlings by Gilles Simon and Tobias Kamke respectively. Despite barely stringing together consecutive wins since August, Berdych remains almost certain to qualify for London. Verdasco has been even less impressive, and almost certainly won’t. Andy Roddick – poor, cursed Roddick – will probably get there, as will the redoubtable and versatile David Ferrer. Youzhny and Melzer, absent with ailing bodies this week, will most likely have to win Paris next week to get a look-in (they won’t).
Monaco d. Murray, 6/2 3/6 6/2
It’s hard to know what to make of this one, especially given how effortlessly Murray handled Monaco in Shanghai a few weeks back. If it happened in the O2, it’d clearly be due to The Pressure. But in the postmodern bone-cathedral thing in Valencia? No idea. The last time I said something like that, the chirpy Scot smashed his way to the Shanghai Masters title. Am I saying he’ll win Paris? No.
David Nalbandian will.