Roger Federer made sure he will be among the last four at the ATP Finals after outplaying South Africa’s Kevin Anderson to top his group on Thursday.
The Swiss once again brushed aside the passing of time with a vintage display, beating Anderson 6-4 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the 15th time in 16 appearances at the event.
Straight-sets win ?
Qualify for semi-finals ?
Group winner ?
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 15, 2018
Earlier, Dominic Thiem beat Nishikori 6-1 6-4 – a result that meant the Austrian would reach the semifinals if Federer lost to Anderson and won fewer than six games.
Thiem admitted he was not holding his breath and from the moment Federer took the first set it was just a case of whether or not the second seed would top the group.
Federer walked out into a jam-packed O2 Arena knowing any repeat of his insipid performance on Sunday against Japan’s Kei Nishikori could result in an ignominious early exit.
Displaying the old swagger, however, he turned on the style to avenge this year’s shock Wimbledon quarterfinal defeat by Anderson in which he squandered a match point.
Federer and Anderson both ended up with two wins in the Lleyton Hewitt group but the record six-time champion grabbed first place – owing to his victory over Anderson – meaning he is likely to avoid world No.1 Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s last four.
Djokovic will top the other group unless he loses to Marin Cilic and John Isner beats Alexander Zverev.
The tournament has so far lacked thrills but a Sunday showdown between old warriors Federer and Djokovic is still on.
Federer is chasing his 100th career title win.
“These round-robin formats are not straightforward,” the Swiss said.
“Normally, you lose, you leave. I think it was also difficult for Kevin because he knew he had already qualified.”
A confident Anderson pushed hard early on and had a glimmer of a chance in the sixth game but Federer held with a sublime backhand winner that had the crowd roaring their approval.
Anderson double-faulted twice in the next game to drop serve but Federer wobbled, sending a forehand wide to hand the break back.
The world No.3 immediately broke again though and switched on the afterburners to clinch the set in the next game from 0-40.
Federer pounced in the seventh game of the second set and claimed victory on his third match point.
Anderson’s consolation is that he becomes the first South African to reach the semis in the tournament’s 48-year history.
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