Roger Federer rolled to his 15th ATP Finals semifinal appearance Thursday in London, besting the guy who beat him at Wimbledon, Kevin Anderson, 6-4, 6-3.
The 6-time champion had lost his opening match on Sunday, but roared through wins over Dominic Thiem and today Anderson to win the Lleyton Hewitt group.
“I’m very happy. First match was tough against Kei, never got going. And with the back against the wall, maybe it’s easier for me to play, I’m not sure. But I fought hard,” Federer said. “In the end, I played some good tennis today and I’m very happy. Kevin’s had a wonderful year, and so have the other two guys. It’s been a fun group, with many different kinds of players in the group. I’m thrilled. Thanks for the support, of course, and I’m excited to be in the semis.”
The two split breaks early in the first before Federer took the opener. Then added further pressure in the second to cruise to the win.
“Unfortunately I had a rocky service game myself after that. I didn’t let that frustrate me or disappoint me. I kept on plugging away, kept on trying,” Federer said. “I think my attitude was good today. I think I had an aggressive playing mindset, a good variation as well with my slice. I think it was just a good match from my side.”
Federer only needed to win five games in the match but took the win anyway after Dominic Thiem ousted Kei Nishikori earlier in the day by a margin of 6-1, 6-4.
Nishikori, who upset Federer on Sunday, won just six games thereafter.
“There were too many unforced errors for me,” said Nishikori. “I think I made it really easy today. He was also playing well.
“But I think I gave him too many free points… He was playing solid, too. There were not too many chances for me today.”
Despite the win, Thiem was later eliminated from the event.
“I just went into that match and wanted to show my real self again basically because two days ago was really bad,” said Thiem. “I wanted to have a much better game again today. That’s what I did.
“I made some adjustments. I tried to have a higher first-serve percentage. Some things definitely paid off. Of course, I’m happy that I got the win.”
On Thursday, with Novak Djokovic already confirmed for the weekend, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and John Isner will all battle for the final spot.
The only way Djokovic doesn’t win the Gustavo Kuerten group (and play Anderson, not Federer on Saturday) is if the Serb loses to Cilic and Isner beats Zverev.
Zverev has the best chance of qualifying having to just won a set against Isner. Cilic has to beat Djokovic and hope for a Zverev win.
And if Zverev does win (by any score), the second match between Cilic and Djokovic becomes meaningless for semifinal implications.
Zverev leads Isner 4-1 but fell to the American in Miami. Djokovic has dominated Cilic winning 16 of 18.
FRIDAY ATP FINALS LONDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 12:00 Noon
RR (1) Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic v (3) Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo
Not Before 2:00 Pm
RR (3) Alexander Zverev v (8) John Isner
Not Before 5:45 Pm
RR (5) Mike Bryan/Jack Sock v (8) Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut
Not Before 8:00 Pm
RR (1) Novak Djokovic v (5) Marin Cilic
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