It's all adding up
Semi-final confusion should not tarnish what's been a fantastic World Tour Finals so far, says Barry Cowan.
Last Updated: 27/11/09 5:08pm
The ATP World Tour Finals hasn't just lived up to its billing so far - it's exceeded it.
This is a special era for men's tennis and we've seen exactly why in the opening days at the O2. The quality and the intensity of the matches has been superb and during them the supporters have felt involved, which is magic.
The delay that ensued on Thursday night as officials worked out whether Juan Martin Del Potro's victory over Roger Federer was enough to take the Spaniard through to the semi-finals should not tarnish what has been a great event.
In the end it all came down to the fact that Del Potro (45-43) won a greater percentage of games than Murray (44-43). Simple stuff.
So it is difficult to understand how such a situation arose because we've been talking about the different scenarios that might arise for a few days now in the Sky Sports commentary box, as have our colleagues elsewhere in the media.
Tennis gives you plenty of time to work out the permutations so the ATP needs to review the way it handles situations like this. Fans must be kept informed of the possible scenarios throughout the day so that when the players shake hands at the end of the match the overall picture is immediately clear.
The tournament is poorer for Andy Murray's exit from a British point of view but in terms of quality you could argue differently. Juan Martin Del Potro is the US Open champion and Roger Federer is the world No 1 so two class acts have still gone through from Group A.
It's a shame for Murray because I think he's played well this week, especially on Thursday when Fernando Verdasco was closing his eyes and swinging. That's when the Spaniard is at his most dangerous but I thought the way Andy approached that challenge was impressive.
He served well and produced some good numbers; his second serve came under scrutiny following his defeat to Federer. He didn't raise his level when Federer raised his and that is cause for a little concern.
But he lifted his game on Thursday and answered his critics by beating Verdasco without dropping serve. That will help to ease the disappointment of not reaching the last four.
You've got to feel for Verdasco because he's played so well and got so close in all of his matches without coming out on top. Some of the play we saw in his clash with Del Potro was incredible!
But I guess that encapsulates his year to a large degree. It's been a breakthrough season for him; he's been very consistent but just hasn't been able to produce his very best when required against the big players.
He's knocking on the door and the beginning of next year is going to be crucial for him because the longer it goes without him being able to impose himself the harder it will be.
Meanwhile, Robin Soderling has adjusted to being in the spotlight very well and fully deserves his semi-final place. The one question mark hanging over him before the tournament started was would he be overawed by his first World Tour Finals appearance? Not a bit of it.
He's a spiky character (in a good way) who believes he can mix it with the best and he did just that on Monday when he defeated Rafael Nadal, who often takes time to get used to a quicker court.
Nadal is experiencing what Novak Djokovic went through at the start of the year. There is such a fine line at times between playing great tennis and coming up short. I don't think Nadal is playing that badly, he is just lacking that big match confidence.
At the start of the year when he won in Australia and then began to clean up on clay, he knew he was going to produce good tennis. Now he's hoping he will - something I'm sure most tennis players can relate to!
I've no doubt Nadal will return to his best because he's nothing if not a fighter. He's a credit to the game; he hasn't made any excuses for his recent form and with that attitude he'll soon be punching his weight again.