Federer Saves 4 MPs In SF Thriller Over Wawrinka, Will Face Djokovic For ATP Finals Title; Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | November 15th, 2014, 10:49 pm

I guess that was worth the wait. After six days of rather ho-hum, uninspiring tennis, today we finally had some serious drama on semifinal day at ATP Finals in London.

First up was Novak Djokovic against Kei Nishikori in rematch of their US Open semifinal won by the Japanese. This time, with air temperature decidedly cooler – heck, it’s indoors in November! – Djokovic jumped out early and led with a break in the second. But after some crowd interference stunted Djokovic’s momentum, Nishikori came to life and seized the second set.

Djokovic shook off his first set lost, regrouped in the third and ran away with the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 to reach his third straight final at the event.

It wasn’t his best match – and a guy like Novak should never let the crowd get in his head – but Djokovic got the job done in the end over a feisty Nishikori.

“The first and third (sets) went the way I wanted,” said Djokovic. “In the second, I had the break, then I lost concentration. He was the better player. He started making shots that he wasn’t making in the first set.

“He’s one of the quickest, most talented players in the world right now. He won many titles, many matches this year. That’s why he’s very dangerous on any surface. He plays very fast. If you start to hesitate with your shots, he puts a lot of pressure on your serve. It wasn’t an easy match.

“I was fortunate because in the beginning of the third set, he had break points. If he broke me, the match could have gone either way. I managed to find that little bit of strength and get a win today. Tomorrow is the last match of the season. Of course it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world. This is already the biggest possible motivation. I will try to give everything I have.”

Up next was one of the best finishes to a match this year. Roger Federer had dominated his buddy Stan Wawrinka winning 14 of 16, but Stan had taken a set in their last four beating Roger in the Monte Carlo final, so there was some hope in this. That said, after a so-so RR stage, Stan wasn’t thought to be much a threat against a very hot and in-form Federer.

That was until the ball dropped.

Stan came out playing the better tennis, bullying a flat-footed Federer by taking the first set. With his back against the wall and hopes slipping, Federer managed to find some cracks to sneak out the second. But just when it looked like things were going his way, an early umpire overrule threw off Federer giving Stan an early break in the finale.

But serving for the match 5-35-4, Stan held three matchpoints in total that game but couldn’t close it out. Some ill-timed shots and dreadful volleys helped Federer break back and eventually the match tensely moved into a final breaker.

Roger jumped out early 3-1 and led again at 5-3. Stan, though, kept fighting back and eventually he held another matchpoint at 6-5. That would be the last point Stan would win as Federer won the last three to close it out in 2 hours, 28 48 minutes.

“I thought it was a very exciting match, to say the least,”: Federer said. “I think the crowd got really into it. “I really didn’t think I was going to turn it around anymore because Stan looked very good for a long time, was able to win the second set somehow by hanging around. Then in the third, I think he played very well. Maybe a serve let him go a little bit when he needed it the most.

“I was frustrated being down in the third,” he added. “I clearly got lucky tonight. There’s no doubt about that. But you’ve got to keep believing that maybe there is a slight chance that you are going to be able to turn it around somehow. It happened today. I’m very pleased. It’s very hard, obviously, against Stan.”

With the lead, with the matchpoints, Stan should have won that match. Federer had no business winning it. But falling to his pal Federer with a Davis Cup tie next weekend, I doubt the sting of the loss will last long.

“For sure that game at the end I was nervous,” said Wawrinka. “It was not easy to play from the baseline. He was normally just pushing his slice backhand return. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to try to take it, try not to wait for a mistake, try to go for it.’

“I think there were only few points that made the difference. I was playing great tennis. [I was] really happy with the way I was playing. But I had some big opportunities in the third set. I should have taken them, especially serving for the match with two match points.”

So our final is set and it’s a good one.

Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
The two best players in the world collide for a 37th time Sunday. Federer leads 19-17 and the two have split their last six. Federer also has the history of having won the title six times to Djokovic’s three.

But Djokovic’s just the better player right now. He’s No. 1, he’s won the title the last two years and, by the way, he’s six years the junior to Federer. And honestly after such a tough, physical match against Wawrinka I don’t how much Roger will have left for Novak.

Novak’s won 31 straight matches indoors and also 14 in a row at the Finals. I know Roger beat him last month in Shanghai, but this is Novak’s last match of the season, and he won’t want to end the year with a loss.

“Knowing just that tomorrow is the last match of the season,” said Djokovic. “I’m sure that I will find any necessary drop of strength, mental and physical, to give it on the court.”

Federer will need to serve well, minimize those errors we saw today, and there were a bunch. For Djokovic, I always like to see how he’s hitting the backhand-down-the-line – can he do it or does he not have the confidence? And the serve will be important as well.
The pick: Djokovic in two

ESPN2 has the live coverage at 1pm ET.

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69 Comments for Federer Saves 4 MPs In SF Thriller Over Wawrinka, Will Face Djokovic For ATP Finals Title; Who’s The Pick?

Steve 27 Says:

I repeat, Djokovic in two easy sets or Chokervic in three thight sets.
Anything can happen but it is on Djoker hands.

Skeezer Says:

Whoever serves better wins.

Okiegal Says:

Fed wins this one…..crowd will be on his side and Novak has problems with the noise of the crowd when it’s against him. Stan paid way too much attention to the fans tonight and lost focus……didn’t help matters any, imo.

michael Says:

If there is any player who can pose a stiff challenge to Novak in the current juncture, it is only Roger. Being an indoor hard court, it would be too naive to dismiss the chances of Roger,but it will all depend as to how quickly a drained Roger recovers from the marathon match with Wawarinka. That said the key is the tactics that would be deployed by Roger to outwit Novak. From the back of the court, Novak is a much better player and so it would be interesting if Roger can replicate the Shanghai formulae and thereby upsetting the rythym of Novak ? Moreover as the surface plays radically different and the court plays relatively slower, it would be interesting if the Shanghai tactics would succeed ?

Nevertheless, this should be an interesting match but I would pick Novak in three sets with two tough sets.

Emily Says:

Didn’t Nole say that he shouldn’t have let the crowd bother him? It sounded like that was something he wouldn’t let happen again, especially in the final.

jane Says:

emily, yes he did; giles posted a twitter link on the other thread with his comments. but you never know if it will bother someone or not; as stan said in his press conference, it’s all about the specific moment, probably as well as the fact that some players are more emotive than others. c’est la vie!

anyhow, good luck to nole from my end; would love to see him tie lendl. if not, well i assume many of us nole fans are pleased with number 1.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

We all saw what a tough match can do to Roger in USO. He is at a stage where the quality of tennis is very high, but body does not recover for his next match quickly. Roger knows it and he might not want to get into a tough match considering DC is few days away. Easy picking for Novak.

Hippy Chick Says:

Novak needs to rise above it and not let it get to him,its not the first time hes got testy with the crowd ,he did exactly the same thing at the FO on MP,they pay their money,and are free to root for or against any player they choose,sarcastically clapping the crowd wont win you any friends,that said i suppose when your under pressure in a match,i suppose its easy for us to say that we shouldnt let it get to them,especially when theres so much at stake,i hope Novaks fans go easy on me….

Hippy Chick Says:

The only time i did care about the crowd,was in Basel some weeks back,who were actually cheering for the errors of Karlovic,why not cheer Rogers fantastic shotmaking and sublime movement around the court,as goodness knows theres plenty of it,but not the errors of an oponent?IMO not true tennis fans,merely fans who are glory chasing hero worshippers,spitefull lot….

Michael Says:

Alison, Good post @ 6.23 am.

Tennislover Says:

I felt quite sorry at the end for both players because both deserved to win. Wawa was the better player and his aggression and bullying almost paid off although that go-for-broke strategy can be a double-edged sword. It also looked like it was his day as the rub of the green went his way every single time and this kept Fed frustrated and rattled throughout the match. Some bad calls and overrules added to the drama and tension and I loved it despite it not being a match of great quality. Fed had the big advantage of serving first in each of the three sets and yet, I got the feeling that a lot of factors – not least of which was the sluggish surface – combined to keep him tense and emotionally ruffled right til the very end. I don’t think he was allowed to relax at any time in the match. It was continuous firefighting trying to somehow find a way to keep himself in the match. Wawa was just going for everything and it was an unbelievable effort to hit those many winners on a court like that although it is much easier to do it against Fed compared to the other top players with more solid defense and aggressive ROS. Stan showed some character there but Fed’s fight was great to see despite the fact that these conditions just do not allow him to play his rather predictable game nowadays. He simply can not compete now from the baseline when faced with the best baseliners in the business. Despite the odds, he did well to finally pip Wawa who put in a tremendous effort.

As for the final, any hope of a great contest has probably been snuffed out by the emotionally draining sf and the very short turnaround that Fed has to deal with. Had he been younger, it’d have been much easier to recover but an old body at the end of a long season is likely to find it much more tough. However, that is the way the cookie crumbles sometimes and as a pro, he must deal with it. He has apparently been dealing with a back issue as well and the commentators alluded to it. Even if Fed were 100%, the best player on the planet, in his absolute prime and on a great indoor run, would be favored to win it relatively comfortably. The court conditions – it is quite appalling to see this homogenization and where this has taken the game – suit Djokovic’s game perfectly and I apprehend Fed will have no place to hide if Djokovic maintains his current high level. He is in an entirely different league and the big step-up in class especially on this surface may prove to be too tough to handle for Fed. In fact, if Fed is not able to improve his serving performance, a Murray-like embarrassment can not be ruled out.

Djokovic starts as the heavy favorite under the circumstances but stranger things have happened and, who knows, Fed could still somehow pull the rabbit out of the hat and end Djokovic’s great winning streak indoors.

Michael Says:

Players like Novak are far too experienced and thorough professionals to be negatively influenced in any manner by unruly and shoddy crowd behaviour.


Good luck Nole…

Polo Says:

Agree with Hippy Chick on this, Nole does get affected by the crowd. He is well experienced and a thorough professional but above that, he is human and that seems to be in his nature to show disapproval to the crowd when it cheers boisterously for his opponent or against him. It is very obvious in his behavior such as facing the crowd and sarcastically cheering. He struggles when that happens and although he often overcomes it and wins, it is nonethess a negative influence in his game.

FedExpress Says:

atp has to fire the frech umpire. the worst umpiring of the year by a distance

third set 1 point: why does he overrule? Why?

tiebreak 5-3: first serve called out, fed aks the umpire if it is was in, umpire says “no,no, no”. and what does the replay show. The ball couldnt have been more in than it was shown.

This umpire should attend a tennis match even

to todays match: i am optimistic that fed will previal. why shouldnt he. He knows novaks game, beat him 3 times already and would be nice to beat him in a final because novak lost not many finals lately

fed in three

van orten Says:

Reading the last paragraph of the prediction above makes me almost believe Djokovic has 28 grandslam titles and has been undefeated for 5 years and will be for another five…
It gets annoying putting Djokovic in the position of über-favourite everytime he plays anyone except nadal.
everyone knows Federer can win the final. So don’t be delusional about the level of competition between fed and djoker.

Michael Says:

I strongly disagree. May be in Davis Cup matches, crowd support can be an stimulating factor but not in individual tournaments.

Margot Says:

Just back from London. I see my predictions for the two finalists were correct ;)Hardly rocket science, however.
Well done to both. Am hoping for a good match but wondering if Fed will be knackered.
@ the DA
How preferable it is to travel in the bus of “legendary” pessimism than to wake up in the house of smashed dreams.

Hippy Chick Says:

Van Orton dont you believe it,Novaks the favorite against everybody,and that includes Nadal,especially on HCs,and even on CCs these days,i used to get annoyed with it too,but have made my peace with it now,Novaks been the best player this year,but hardly invincible or unbeatable,hes arguably been the most consistent player since 2011,but as Elina said that has not translated from Masters to GS,Novak won the AO in 2013,and it was 18 months before winning another,as for winning the WTF well hes evenly matched with Roger here,just hope hes not too knackered after yesterday….

Hippy Chick Says:

Thanks Polo :))….
Thanks Michael :))….

Hippy Chick Says:

Margot glad you enjoyed yourself,i was sorry about Andy,so ill leave it at that :((….

Giles Says:

The crowd may well have a say in the outcome of the match. Fedfans here, there and everywhere supporting their man. Might get a bit noisy, no?

TennisVagabond.com Says:

Happy, hasn’t Novak been losing most of his matches against Rafa the last two years?

Fed will not be tired. But I agree with Michael, the conditions are nothing like Shanghai. Fed did not seem to be attacking the net nearly as much against Stan, though I haven’t seen the stats.

Going to be a good match, but Fed will need to serve great and return great to have a chance as I really think his offensive game is neutered on this court;.

skeezer Says:

Does anyone know this stat?
What is Feds record, after 31;
When he wins a 3 setter in a 3 set format and has to play the next day?

elina Says:

Even Novak admits that the crowd got to him. This is why he lost the second set. Likewise Stan collapsed in the big moments failing in his first attempt to serve out the first set, failing to serve out the match and failing on four match points whereas Roger capitalized on his first.

This is why I believe that Roger will win today. I believe he will handle the pressure better and the crowd will carry him over his younger opponent.

From The Guardian:

“The lopsided score accurately reflects a match in which Djokovic started and finished like a bull and lost concentration in the middle, letting his sarcastic racket-slap in response to the crowd’s cheer for his double fault undermine his game. Ever so briefly he looked like losing the plot, angry with himself as much as the fans. “Look, for one side yes, the other side yes,” he said when asked if he could understand the paying customers at last celebrating a contest, after a week when only one of 12 group matches had gone beyond two sets.

“It’s sport and they wanted to see a more interesting match. I made a mistake, let my emotions go, lost my concentration. I won’t do it again.”

We will see.

Jimmy Says:

Regarding scheduling, Fed played the first day and therefore had Friday off, Djoker is now playing 3 days in a row, it is only fair that Fed played the night match yesterday.

John Graham Says:

Federer … no question. I like Djokovic but he is liable to let the crowd get to him.

skeezer Says:

Wasn’t looking at what was fair, we could all go round and round about that. Is it fair that Nole is 27 and Fed is 33? Despite Fed not getting more easliy tired than a 27 yr old, he is much older in tennis years than Nole. His recovery period has to be different than it was 6 years ago. Just hope he doesn’t come out flat and we get a good effort out of both players. I am not going to post here afterwards on an age excuse if he loses, no worries there. May be the best man win.

elina Says:

skeezer, 12-6 and three of those loses came against Nadal so vs all players not named Nadal, Fed is 12-3 playing the next day after a three set match since turning 31 (if you include his win after he lost in three sets to Del Potro)!

He will be fine today.

elina Says:

Novak’s full quote:

“I cannot blame the crowd. The crowd has a right to do what they want, to cheer for whoever they want. Some individuals that were going over the line throughout the whole match, some provocations that I usually don’t react on, but I did. It was my fault. I lost the concentration. I lost the break because of that. I allowed myself to be in the situation to lose the set, maybe even lose the match. So, yeah, generally it was my fault and I should know better. I should have let it go. But, you know, when you tolerate once, twice, three times, four times, we’re all humans, you react.”

skeezer Says:

Thanks elina!

Brando GOAT poster Says:

Re scheduling: h

Jimmy Says:

I get your point Skeezer, I was just pointing out that they tried to balance the schedule problems by giving the guy playing three days in a row the earlier match, but given how they cram the event into an eight day schedule, there is no perfect solution.

Brando GOAT poster Says:

Re scheduling: how on earth can anyone not see that it’s disastrous, inept and amateur to say the least for a event that is only 500 mere point off a Grand Slam! It’s ludicrous to have a major event seeing a finalist play the next day after finishing at after 11pm the day prior! Comical even. 2 changes need toads urgently: 1- day rest between SF and final: if RR stage can afford such a thing to players, why not the business end of the tournament. 2- best of 5 set finals: it’s the 5th biggest singles event on tour, it’s the final one of the year, the elite of the game play it and over 250,000 per year flock to see it unfold along with millions around the world. Why the hell is the final in such a event not a 5 set affair? It ought to be when considering even the Olympics and Davis Cup have sense enough to provide such a thing in the final. At present: the SF/ final setup, no 5 set final is similar to a 250,500 point event: and that’s just ridiculous considering the profile of the event! Day rest between SF and final with a 5 set final is a must I think for such a event!

Brando GOAT poster Says:

LMFAO: to be done > toads.

Margot Says:

Lol Brando, toads and tennis, must be a first…;)

jane Says:

very disappointing, but here’s the word on twitter… not yet confirmed:

Federer forfait pour la finale… Catastrophe à beaucoup de niveaux là…

jane Says:

in english….

Carole Bouchard ‏@carole_bouchard 45s46 seconds ago
Federer injured, out of the final vs Djokovic. Absolut tennis disaster on so many levels. A tought for Wawrinka too.
0 replies 0 retweets 0 favorites
Reply Retweet Favorite

jane Says:

No final – it’s official. It’s all over twitter. What a shame. One journalist said Fed hurt his back at 6 all in the tiebreaker. I am not sure exactly what’s going to happen but someone said Nole might play and exho with Nick the kid…

Margot Says:

Oh what a shame! What a let down! Back apparently.
Andy will play Nole one set then a doubles.Andy and Mac will play Henman and Cash.
Oh my word! Good for Andy, not slinking away and hiding!

Margot Says:

Chris Kermode called Andy at 2pm.
I can only conclude Stan/Kei must’ve already gone home.

brando GOAT poster Says:

Aw ####! What a unfortunate happening! Feel bad for Fed and his fans. Bummer for nole: gaining a title like this is just a bum note.

jane Says:

chiara gambuzza ‏@ChiaraGamTWI 1m1 minute ago
Federer:”I tried everything.Painkiller,tried to warm up but nothing worked.I can’t compete against Novak”

i guess he just couldn’t do it. but yeah margot, i am surprised that stan or kei or an alternate couldn’t step in and play a final at least. sigh.

i believe davis cup begins on the 21st so in 5 days. this might be a factor?

brando GOAT poster Says:

Confirmed rescheduling, exhibition starts in 15 minutes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/30074849

Eric Says:

Wow– terrible. And not a good sign for Rog’s future…

Margot Says:

Only Stan or Kei could’ve played a final. Otherwise it’s just false pretenses. The other players certainly didn’t deserve to. In the very, very unlikely situation they won too, can see all sorts of problems any way.

TennisVagabond.com Says:

Huge disappointment! We are robbed of what could have been a historic battle.

hope he can recover for DC!

jane Says:

yes, that’s true margot.

brando GOAT poster Says:

I feel gutted for Fed: he’s 33 so who knows, maybe this was his last major final and its tragic it ended like this before it even started. Saddening stuff. I commented yesterday he looked downbeat at the end, thought it was fatigue but now we know. I feel sorry for him.

brando GOAT poster Says:

Wawrinka should be playing as a stand in. Can he really have left London already? If not then it’s a joke he ain’t playing since that would be a valid final: he had mp so it’s not like a thrashed loser standing in and he can compete also. Sad that all we have is an exhibition to finish with: a underwhelming end to a dismally underwhelming event the great drama last night.

Margot Says:

He hardly ever withdraws from anything either, so must be quite bad, unless he’s being ultra, ultra cautious, but I’d doubt that.

Bob Lewis Says:

This is a real pity, obviously. But nothing in life is more important than health. If he tries to play and makes things worse, fans would be robbed of more than just this final. Gotta think long-term.

The late, packed schedule while chasing the #1 ranking caught up with him. Get well, Roger.

Humble Rafa Says:

Someone retires due to injury and world is sad. Nice to see that for a change, instead of debating the validity of the injury.

brando GOAT poster Says:

@Margot: I fear its bad since if he Has a 20% chance he’ll play. Surely wtf> Davis cup. Plus all that international supporters who have travelled to see him: he would definitely play.

brando GOAT poster Says:

@Margot: I fear its bad since if he Has a 20% chance he’ll play. Surely wtf> Davis cup. Plus all that international supporters who have travelled to see him: he would definitely play.

Bob Lewis Says:

Potentially, this could take him out of the Australian. Back issues are serious. Again, he needs to think long-term. For those that want to see him play a few more years, that can’t happen unless he’s fit.

brando GOAT poster Says:

@bob Lewis: please don’t say that. I know you mean well but it would suck badly if that happens. I root for rafa hard but the simple truth is: whenever feudal, nole or Andy go the tour is depleted and loses some magic,attraction. We need these guys. Wish Fed all the best but knowing what a fighter he is: I do fear the worst right now. This is awful with rafa out already!:-(

brando GOAT poster Says:

Fedal> feudal. Damn auto correct!

Emily Says:

I’m sorry for Fed, but this feels like salt in the wound for Stan. That’s my gut reaction, but I’m also sorry for the spectators and tennis fans. Strange way to end the year and the tournament. I was so excited for the WTF this year and it’s been more like a set of exhibition matches. Watching Andy go down against Fed was also painful and shows what he has to do to beat the non/Robredos of the tennis world (though I’m sure that discussion is on another thread)

DC has to be in Roger’s mind though. He might have played through the pain if he didn’t have to play his biggest Davis Cup tie ever on Friday. Stan’s probably there already and they need to get used to the surface fast. That was possibly a factor, but maybe saving those match points yesterday hurt both of them.

Daniel Says:

That’s bad. What a way to finish a topsy turvy year.

Hope he can regroup for DC.

Congrats Djoko even with a sour taste that’s 4 Year End Championship and 3 in a row finishing this year with 7 titles.

Okiegal Says:

I’ll bet he did it when he went after the smash shot. He was in an awkward position after that, I noticed. I believe he missed it too……but he made one…..not sure which was which. I remember thinking after the shot that if he didn’t strain his back after that attempt I would be shocked. This is sad for him and Novak, was looking forward to the match. He won’t do Davis Cup, I will bet. The AO is too soon to take any chances. Get well, Fed, tennis needs you. Sorry to both fan bases. I know you’re crushed, and I know the feeling all to well.

Get well everybody…..2015 is coming up!!

jane Says:

yeah, it must be weird/tough for stan, having lost those match points.

jane Says:

Barry Flatman ‏@Barry_FlatmanST 1m1 minute ago
John McEnroe has now made it public: “Something went on in the locker room between Fed and Wawrinka & it extended long into the night.”

brando GOAT poster Says:

^ wow wee !!! Speechless at the going ons of the last 24 hours on tour!

madmax Says:

Margot Says:
Only Stan or Kei could’ve played a final. Otherwise it’s just false pretenses. The other players certainly didn’t deserve to. In the very, very unlikely situation they won too, can see all sorts of problems any way.

November 16th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Margot, Stan could hardly walk this morning and Kei has a wrist injury. Confirmed on the other thread.

ummh, not at you Margot, but whoever else said that Stan was robbed? Hello? Anyone see the semi final last night? Almost three hours. You think Stan could have played today?

Roger, get well. Made the right decision. No doubt. Who knows what the future holds, but he made the right decision.

madmax Says:


Read what Henman just said, Roger just left the building about 20 minutes ago.

John McEnroe is a gossip monger. We all know that. I would never add any fuel to the fire. Those two are like brothers and not only that. Stan must have been devastated last night, tired, and feeling pretty miserable.

Love Stan.

Roger is talking…now to Sue Barker. Treatment on his back, didn’t feel much of an improvement overnight…no day off…not enough time to recover. There is no way I can compete at any level. Right now, it’s not good enough.

Congratulations to Novak. Congrats to Novak for World No. 1.

You have some recurring things from time to time, nt too much of a surprise…been good for over a year, been a surprise, may be a back spasm. Nt a fun thing to have during the day, uncomfortable, but am position it will go away very soon.

There you have it everyone, from Roger.

madmax Says:

positive it will go away, I meant.

Yeah the locker room. What goes on in the locker room at midnight? I would imagine both men were too knackered for much except saying goodnight and getting to physio as soon as.

Okiegal Says:

The umpire called Stan off of fans last night…..and guess what?? Stan’s play waned after that, imo. Was it Merika? I can’t believe she would do that. Roger got a little testy at times when things weren’t going his way, but that’s nothing new for the majority of players. I’m curious how serious the injury is…..He has played lots of matches as of late.

Okiegal Says:

Do you suppose he would be a candidate for stem cell therapy?? We know for sure he could afford it. No telling how much that procedure cost.

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