London, Nov 24 (DPA) Novak Djokovic claimed his 11th victory in a row with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 comeback over Nikolay Davydenko to start the ATP World Tour Finals on what was a disappointing day for rival Rafael Nadal.
Serb Djokovic, winner of three autumn titles in six weeks on two continents, moved to 19-1 Monday since the mid-September end of the US Open.
His only loss during his hot streak came against Russian Davydenko last month in the Shanghai semi-finals. Djokovic, Beijing champion a week before, went onto lift trophies in Basel and Paris in successive weeks to end the regular season.
Djokovic needed almost three hours to construct his comeback, firing eight aces while breaking the Russian three times in the struggle.
Lightning struck twice this season as Robin Soderling defeated Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in a Group B upset, his second win over the Spaniard in 2009.
The hard-hitting Swede humbled Spain’s world number two in a repeat performance nearly six months after becoming the first man to defeat the four-time French Open winner at Roland Garros.
Nadal’s unsettled season continued as he went down to Soderling in just over 90 minutes, with the Swede, who only qualified into the field when US player Andy Roddick withdrew with a lingering knee injury, breaking four times.
“In the important moments, I didn’t have this necessary calm,” said Nadal, who has discounted his long-odds chances of ending the season as number one after his day on court.
“I had a few mistakes, I played shorter in the important moments, and that’s why he beat me. He’s a big player in this surface. If you are not completely calm and playing very well in that moment, it’s really difficult to win. Today, I didn’t play in this way in those moments.”
Nadal, who stood 3-0 against Soderling before Roland Garros this year, appears to be continuing his poor run in year-end events.
The Spaniard has stalled at the semi-finals at the season finale at his last two appearances (2006 and 2007).
Nadal is concentrating on Spain’s Davis Cup final next weekend in Barcelona against the Czech Republic, after missing his nation’s title success in 2008 in Argentina.
Nadal struck 24 unforced errors against the determined Soderling, who broke to end both sets. Nadal saved a match point from the Swede’s error in the final game, but Soderling clinched the win from Nadal’s backhand long.
Soderling said was glad to have passed another test against Nadal.
“I always enjoy playing against the top guys. Nadal is for sure one of them, so … we’ve played — I don’t know, five or six times now — and we’ve always had good matches, nice matches,” he said.
“Every first round match in every tournament for me is the toughest one. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning. But I got off to a very good start with an early break, and that helped me a lot. … Overall, for me, it was a good match.”
Soderling’s win improved his record to 2-3 against Nadal.