Roger managed to pull out that match yesterday. I was following the scores at work, heart in my mouth - especially when it got to 5-5 in the second - but then thankfully he managed to break Verdasco in the last game of the second set and then scream away on a seven game winning streak to take the third set 6-1. Verdasco faded badly in the third - I think he gave everything he had up front. Still, although he won, not Roger's greatest match ever, and I think he's going to need to bring a little more to the table against Muzz and JMDP.
But no matter how crapulently he plays for the rest of the tournament, he is almost assured the year end #1 finish by virtue of what happened today. I bet Rafael Nadal pretty much feels like punching a wall at the moment. Not only did he lose, making it that much harder to snatch the #1 away, he lost in straight sets to someone who is not his favourite person in the world (to put it mildly) - Robin Soderling.
I've been converted to the way of the Sod. I love me some yoking. But damn do I feel bad for Rafa.
If he disliked the Yoker before this year - which he certainly did, I believe it dates back to that five day five set match that played in Wimbledon in 2007 where they ended up mocking each other and throwing jibes across the net - I bet he can't stand him now. Which is kind of sad, because the Yoker really seems to have grown into a bit of a dude this year. But you can't blame Rafa. First there was that heart-breaking defeat at Roland Garros, and now the smackdown here...
The Sod seems to be Rafa's own personal kryptonite. I don't know if there's a better way of putting it. Rafa is definitely off-colour at the moment, and so I don't know how much this result really counts in the long term, but in the short term, I bet it stings like a bitch. I'll be interested to see how this rivalry plays out next year. Robin'll be keen to tighten the thumbscrews, whereas Rafa... will want to go all Batman on him.
(Yes, I went there. I went to that pun territory. And I am not ashamed.)
Barclays ATP World Tour Championships (London)
Roger Federer def. Fernando Verdasco, 4-6 7-5 6-1
Robin Soderling def. Rafael Nadal, 6-4 6-4
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago