David Ferrer (above), who beat Novak Djokovic in straights Wednesday, making him the only man to do so in a completed match this year.

When Jo-Wilfried Tsonga broke Nadal for the 3rd time today, all in the 3rd set, to clinch a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 victory in 2:45, the Frenchman advanced to the Masters YEC semi-finals for the first time, joining Spaniard David Ferrer and fixture, Roger Federer.  But the final semi-final entrant may not be determined until the last point is played on Friday, and in some scenarios come down to actuarial science.  In the double elimination format which is only employed here at the YEC, one can actually lose twice and still advance to the semis.  We aren’t knocking the format that so many times has given us a well deserved champion playing an exciting brand of tennis so late in the year, and we love the unique and fair elements to the “double elimination” format which gives players playing against the top 8 in the world still standing a margin for error they aren’t normally afforded.  But as Ferrer stunned Djokovic on Wednesday, dealing the Serb what he and we called his worst tennis of the year, we watched and wondered how exactly the 2nd A group player to advance would be determined, since very likely, Djokovic, Berdych, and Ferrer could end up 2-1, with Djokovic having beaten Berdych and lost to Ferrer, and with Berdych very possibly having lost to Djokovic and beaten Ferrer (if Berdych indeed does win tomorrow).

Well, we looked up the answer and still had our difficulties processing.  Take a look:

SEMI-FINAL QUALIFYING PROCEDURE

At the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the final standings of each group shall be determined by the first of the following methods that apply:

a) Greatest number of wins;

b) Greatest number of matches played;
    Comment: 2-1 won-loss record beats a 2-0 won-loss record; a 1-2 record beats a 1-0 record.

c) Head-to-head results if only two (2) players are tied,

d) If three (3) players are tied, then:

    i) If three (3) players each have one (1) win, a player having played less than all three (3) matches is   automatically eliminated and the player advancing to the single elimination competition is the winner of the match-up of the two (2) players tied with 1-2 records; or
    ii) Highest percentage of sets won; or
    iii) Highest percentage of games won; or
    iv) The player positions on the South African Airways ATP Rankings as of the Monday after the last ATP World Tour tournament of the calendar year.
v) If (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv) produce one (1) superior player (first place), or one (1) inferior player (third place), and the two (2) remaining players are tied, the tie between those two (2) players shall be broken by head-to-head record.

Comment 1: 1 player has 3 wins and the other 3 players have 1 win. Of the 3 players with 1 win, 1 player has only played in 2 matches while the other 2 players have played 3 matches. The player who has only played 2 matches is eliminated and then the 2 remaining players revert back to head-to-head results with the winner of their match advancing to the semi-finals.

Comment 2: 1 player has 3 wins and the other 3 players have 1 win and they all have played 3 matches. The tie-break for % of sets won has 1 player with a better % than the other two. This player advances to the semi-final round.

Comment 3: 3 players have 2 wins and the other player has 0 wins. The player with 0 wins is eliminated. Of the 3 players with 2 wins, they are ordered by their % of sets won. This produces a 1, 2 & 3 order and the players finishing 1 and 2 move to the semi-final round and the player finishing 3 in % of sets won is eliminated. The player with the best % of sets won is the winner of the group.

Comment 4: 3 players have 2 wins and the other player has 0 wins. The player with 0 wins is eliminated. Of the 3 players with 2 wins, 1 player’s sets won-loss is 5-2 for 71.43%; the other 2 players both have a 4-3 record in sets for 57.14%. In this case there is 1 superior player (71.43%) and the remaining 2 players are tied; it now reverts to the head to head result of the 2 remaining players with the winning player advancing as group runner-up.

Comment 5: 3 players have 2 wins and the other player has 0 wins. The player with 0 wins is eliminated. Of the 3 players with 2 wins, 2 have set won-loss records of 5-3 (62.5%) while the other player is 4-3 (57.14%). In this case we have 1 inferior player (57.14%) and he is eliminated. The remaining two players both advance to the semi-finals with the winner of their head-to-head match advancing as the group winner.

Comment 6: 3 players have 2 wins and the other player has 0 wins. The player with 0 wins is eliminated. Of the 3 players with 2 wins, all have played 3 matches and all 3 have set won-loss records of 5-4 (55.56%). In this case we move to % of games won. The % of games won breaks down like this: 44-40 for 52.38%, 45-43 for 51.14% and 44-43 for 50.57%. This produces a 1, 2 and 3 order of the group and the number 1 player in % of games won is the group winner while the player finishing 2nd in % of games won advances to the semi-finals as the group runner-up. The player with the 3rd best % of games won is eliminated.

So, all clear?  It seemed to us that since the head to head tie-breaker is invalidated because of Ferrer’s win over Djokovic, giving Djokovic and Berdych one loss each, that % sets won would be the deciding factor, meaning Djokovic looked a bit more unlikely because Berdych has a better set winning % right now, and would do no worse than tie in % sets won, providing he wins a set against Ferrer tomorrow, even if Djokovic wins in straights.  Then what, you ask?  Well, it would seem that % games won is the next deciding factor, and Ferrer’s pounding of Djokovic in which the Djoker only managed 4 games, would make it almost impossible for Djokovic to advance tomorrow if he and Berdych both win out.

Tonight from the ATP comes these if pronouncements, should you be unclear, like us:

FRIDAY

Singles Group A qualification scenarios after the completion of the 2nd round of the event’s group stage:

1) Regardless of score, if N. DJOKOVIC defeats J. TIPSAREVIC and D. FERRER defeats T. BERDYCH, then D. FERRER wins the group and N. DJOKOVIC qualifies 2nd.
2) Regardless of score, if J. TIPSAREVIC defeats N. DJOKOVIC and D. FERRER defeats T. BERDYCH, then D. FERRER wins the group and N. DJOKOVIC qualifies 2nd.
3) Regardless of score, if J. TIPSAREVIC defeats N. DJOKOVIC and T. BERDYCH defeats D. FERRER, then T. BERDYCH wins the group and D. FERRER qualifies 2nd.

4) If N. DJOKOVIC defeats J. TIPSAREVIC in 2 sets and T. BERDYCH defeats D. FERRER in 2 sets, then D. FERRER wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd.
5) If N. DJOKOVIC defeats J. TIPSAREVIC in 2 sets and T. BERDYCH defeats D. FERRER in 3 sets, then D. FERRER wins the group and N. DJOKOVIC qualifies 2nd.
6) If N. DJOKOVIC defeats J. TIPSAREVIC in 3 sets and T. BERDYCH defeats D. FERRER in 2 sets, then D. FERRER wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd.
7) If N. DJOKOVIC defeats J. TIPSAREVIC in 3 sets and T. BERDYCH defeats D. FERRER in 3 sets, then D. FERRER wins the group and T. BERDYCH qualifies 2nd.

So Berdych is going forward if he can win in 2 sets, regardless, and is also going through if Djokovic drops a set.  If they both win and drop a set then Berdych will get Federer in Saturday’s semis and Ferrer will get Tsonga.  If Berdych wins in straights tomorrow, then he will win his group and play Tsonga, who he’d probably rather not play, in Saturday’s semis.  If Djokovic wins in straights and Berdych loses, then Djokovic gets the second berth in the A group and will face Federer Saturday.  It is not possible for him to win his group.

Here are the odds for the final day of RR action, kicking off tomorrow @ 9 AM with Djokovic, in what does seem to us his likely final match of the season that was:

Djokovic:  – 320

Tipsarevic:  + 260

__ __ __ __

Ferrer:  – 120

Berdych:  Even

……….

Honestly, we like Berdych tomorrow, even though he trails 5-2 lifetime in the H2H, and notched both of those victories years ago on clay.  They have only played once in the last 4 years, and it was a tight win in Malaysia for Ferrer where he seems to play exceptionally well.  He also plays very well on the fast indoor slate.  Remember his run to the final against Federer in 2007 and his outstanding play in Austin this summer in DC versus Fish and Roddick, who are both theoretically better players on that type of court.  We see Berdych as having a great lot to play for tomorrow, and at what point does a counter puncher like Ferrer start breathing hard here?  Perhaps it’s not inevitable.  The guy played Djokovic lights out Wednesday, but maybe he has a little bit of an energy drop after that.  Maybe not.  But we would not take a slap hitter as a favorite on this service, not even with theoretical money.

BTW, Nadal gets to go on to the DC finals against Argentina and he probably cares way more about that, as he should.  But his week here epitomizes why we can not stand a pusher.  Four winners versus Federer?  Out winnered 21-6 by Tsonga in the first set today?  Last year when he had his only really solid showing at the YEC ever, losing in 3 in the final to Federer, he played way more aggressively.  That way he at least has a chance.  Rolling back backhands and finishing the forehand three feet over his head is not going to cut it against a decent player on this type of court.

Though it’s a different match entirely for Rafa, we think, if he doesn’t accidentally clip a volley going wide early in that tie-breaker in the first set.  Anyway, we’ll be surprised if Federer doesn’t come out on Sunday and get his record best 6th YEC championship and 70th title, no matter who the opponent.

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