In the marquee match of the round robin portion of the ATP Finals, Roger Federer topped German wunderkind Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-1 in a topsy-turvy affair.
Federer fought off an early serving deficit and then came back in the breaker to take the set.
The Swiss, though, couldn’t hang on to an early break in the second, but managed to cruise in the third, running his win streak to 12 and book yet another spot in the semifinals.
“I’m extremely happy..It’s been a tough group so to be there in two matches is great,” Federer said. “But today was difficult. Still early days in the tournament. It was nice to be able to show maybe that quality of mine, that I can dig out these matches, these points time and time again, stay mentally tough. In the third I started to play better. It was a tough match from the beginning till the end.”
Zverev fell to 1-1, but now faces a pivotal match Thursday against Jack Sock who ousted Marin Cilic.
“I think it was a very positive match,” Zverev said. “I still have great chances of qualifying, playing Jack Sock next. I think if I continue having this level, I don’t know, maybe you’ll see me in the weekend still.”
Sock won his third straight over Cilic coming from a break down in the third to collect his first career ATP Finals win 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4).
“I think if I do the right things and I play the right tennis, I can give myself a chance to play on the weekend of any tournament. I think I’ve showed that more this year,” said Sock, who won three ATP World Tour titles this season, including the Rolex Paris Masters earlier this month.
Cilic, who also served 5-4 in the breaker, was eliminated from semifinal contention. He’s now just 1-7 in eight previous matches at the Finals.
“That tie-break, it was quite a few close points. Him getting that unbelievable [net] cord, one backhand down the line that he hit on 5/4. He didn’t hit many down-the-line winners during the match. That was a big shot to hit at that stage,” Cilic said.
“I think Jack is playing really good. He had a really nice season, especially the beginning, now the end… Overall I think he’s playing good tennis, quite aggressive. When he’s playing well, he’s definitely very dangerous.”
Federer will next play Cilic On Thursday with hopes of winning the Boris Becker Group.
On Wednesday in the Rafa-less Pete Sampras Group, Grigor Dimitrov takes on David Goffin and then later Nadal’s replacement, Pablo Carreno Busta, matches up with Dominic Thiem.
Dimitrov has won three of four against Belgian with a possible SF berth on the line.
Thiem leads Carreno Busta 4-0. The loser of the match is likely out of the tournament. Even as an alternate, Carreno Busta has a shot at the semifinals is he goes 2-0.
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