In the match of the round robin, Roger Federer turned back the clock displaying some of his best tennis in a convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory over tournament favorite Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals.
Federer broke Djokovic early in the first, then rode his serve and lethal backhand to a quick opening set win.
Djokovic saved early break points in the second, but just couldn’t find the mark during the match as Federer was in near-perfect form collecting his first victory over his rival in four years.
“Great atmosphere, a great opponent here in London at The O2, definitely incredibly special,” Federer said. “Just a night I enjoyed from the beginning. I played incredible, and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does and I was able to produce. So it was definitely magical.”
The win sends Federer to the semifinals where he’ll meet the top player from the Andre Agassi Group to be decided tomorrow. It’s the 16th time in 17 appearances the Swiss has made the last four. He’s won the title a record six times.
“There was a lot riding on the match. I think I served great, had great anticipation, a clear game plan and it worked to perfection tonight, and hopefully not the last time against Novak,” Federer said. “But even if it didn’t, it was all worth it. It was a great performance tonight from me.”
The loss eliminates Djokovic from the event, and ends his No. 1 hopes meaning Rafael Nadal will finish 2019 on top for a fifth time in his career.
“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn’t read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side.
“I have the utmost admiration for him and everything he’s doing on the court. What he has achieved over the years and what he’s still showing on the court is phenomenal. He’s a role model, even for me, and one of the toughest opponents I’ve had in my career. Looking at his career and what he’s still doing just inspires you.”
Djokovic also dismissed any issues with his elbow which seemed to flare up during the match.
“I hope it’s nothing that will make me unable me to play Madrid. The pain was pretty sharp,” Djokovic said or his elbow. “But I could play the rest of the match. If I had something really serious, I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. So it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any issues later on.”
Earlier in the day, in a match for money and ranking points only, Matteo Berrettini finished his first ATP Finals on a high note beating Bjorn Borg Group champion Dominic Thiem 7-6(3), 6-3.
“I’m really proud of myself, but more for my team, my family, my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season. I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here,” the 23-year-old Berrettini said. “I hope to come back next year. I just want to say thanks to those guys because without them it wouldn’t be possible.”
The on the final day of round robin play Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas is in, but three other players including Nadal have a shot.
Tsitsipas will meet Nadal with the winner getting the top spot out of the Agassi Group, and a match against Federer on Saturday.
If Nadal loses, he’s out.
“He’s a great player, a lot of energy, very young and he’s having an amazing season. So it will be a very tough one,” Nadal said of the Greek who he leads 4-1. “I know I need to win that one. I hope to be ready for it, let’s try to make that happen.”
After blowing a match point and a 5-1 lead in the third against Nadal, Daniil Medvedev returns to face defending champion Alexander Zverev.
If Nadal beats Tsitsipas, the Medvedev-Zverev match will be meaningless as Rafa will have won the group, Tsitsipas second.
If Tsitsipas wins, then Medvedev will get the second spot by winning only in straights, otherwise, if Zverev gets a set then he’s in.
FRIDAY ATP FINALS LONDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court Starts At 12:00 Noon
RR 1 Juan Sebastian Cabal-Robert Farah v 3 Kevin Krawietz-Andreas Mies
Not Before 2:00 Pm
RR 1 Rafael Nadal v 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas
Not Before 5:45 Pm
RR 6 Jean-Julien Rojer-Horia Tecau v 7 Pierre-Hugues Herbert-Nicolas Mahut
Not Before 8:00 Pm
RR 4 Daniil Medvedev v 7 Alexander Zverev
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