Roger Federer Ends Novak Djokovic's 3-Year Indoor Dominance at London ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Ends Novak Djokovic’s 3-Year Indoor Dominance at London ATP Finals

Ivan Pasquariello

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Roger Federer celebrates victory number 50 at the ATP Finals and ends Novak Djokovic’s three-year dominance on indoor courts beating the Serb by 7-5 6-2 at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. After 23 consecutive matches, Novak loses to the last player who had beaten him in Cincinnati. The last time Novak had lost a match indoor was in 2012 to Sam Querrey in Paris. The Swiss has qualified for the semi-finals at the O2 Arena. 

 

 

There was a lot at stake for Novak Djokovic as he entered the O2 Arena on Wednesday for the big match of the Stan Smith Group. Facing the last opponent that had managed to beat him all the way back in August, the Serb and World No.1 was the player who had it all to lose.

A 38-match indoor winning streak. A 15-match winning streak at the ATP Finals. A 23-match winning streak since that match lost to Federer in the final of Cincinnati, a three-year dominance on indoor courts having lost the last match to Sam Querrey in Paris back in 2012. Finally, a shot at taking the lead in the Head-2-Head record against Roger Federer for the first time in his career. Tied at 21-21 after the US Open final, the Serb had never managed to hold the lead against the Swiss. Clearly, the Round Robin match in London seemed the best chance for Novak to turn that around.

Bidding to become the first player to win the ATP Finals for 4 consecutive times, Djokovic has now to win at all costs against Berdych to reach the semi-finals. Roger Federer on the other hand, has already qualified. If he were to lose a set to Nishikori in the last match of the group, he could also be sure to have the biggest threat sent out packing before the semifinals (if Berdych beats Djokovic in straight sets). It something that will hardly happen, considering the huge amount of respect the top players on the ATP tour have for one another.

Federer won the match simply playing better. More solid on the baseline, more keen to attack on the important points, the Swiss took advantage of a bad day at the office for the Serb. Djokovic closed the match with 22 unforced errors, far more than what the Serb had accustomed us to since winning the US Open in September and then one after the other Beijing, Shanghai and the Paris Masters.

Roger Federer on the other hand, can celebrate his victory number 50 at the ATP World Tour finals, a tournament he has won a record 6 times. Sure to be in the last 4 in London yet again, Roger will play out of pressure against Nishikori on Thursday.

With the win Federer has now tied the Head-2-Head record to 2-2 against Djokovic at the ATP Finals, without counting the final that wasn’t played in 2014.

 

Roger Federer b. Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 17 minutes

RR ATP World Tour Finals

O2 Arena, London

 

Head-2-Head tied at 21-21

 

Federer 1st match

 

+ Berdych 6-4 6-2

 

Djokovic 1st match
+ Nishikori 6-1 6-1

 

MATCH REPORT

 

Roger Federer starts the match on serve, at the left of the chair umpire.

 

THE FIRST SET

 

Novak Djokovic calls for a challenge on the first shot he hits in the match, a return that finishes just long, as confirmed by Hawk-Eye. Federer starts on the aggression, closing the third point at the net with a backhand drop volley and then a winner smash. The rallies are played on the baseline, where the Serb has the control. On a great defensive game, Djokovic gets to break point at 30-40. Federer saves the first chance with a first serve and forehand winner. The Swiss recovers quickly from the early scare, fires his first ace of the match and holds to lead 1-0.

 

With a drop shot and forehand return winner, Federer makes clear his intention to cut the rallies short and not spend too much time on the court. The aggression isn’t enough as the Serb resists and holds serve to 30 to impact on 1-1.

 

Roger starts the third game with his second ace, after a first serve he then fires his third ace of the match. Djokovic responds with a stunning backhand cross-court return clean winner at 40-0. After the aces, Federer also commits his first double fault in the match, but then holds to 30 with another deep first serve aimed at Djokovic’s body.

 

At his third chance, Djokovic wins his first point on a second serve, firing a forehand inside-in winner to get to 30-0. The Serb also loses his first point on first serve, after winning 5 in a row, but holds easily to 15 to tie the score at 2-2. The rallies are within the 5-shot range as Federer hits his 4th ace to get to 40-0. Djokovic steps in again with another stunning backhand return winner to trail back 30-40. The Swiss closes the game with his 5th ace.

 

Serving down 2-3, Djokovic insists on Federer’s backhand, but sees every ball coming back. Federer wins another point with a spectacular backhand drop shot to see his first chance on Djokovic’s serve at 15-30. The Serb attacks with his backhand to cancel the threat, winning the 5th point of the game with a first serve and forehand winner to get to 40-30. Federer loses the battle of backhands hitting long as Djokovic holds to set the score at 3-3.

 

The rallies stay short in the match, with both players looking for the winner right away. On serve Federer manages to keep the edge, holding to 15 as Djokovic hits a forehand wide. With the score at 4-3 in favour of Federer, both players have a 76% of first serves on court.

 

In the 8th game Djokovic finally hits his first ace in the match. Novak attacks on Federer’s backhand to raise to 40-0 and holds serve to love thanks to an impressive centralised second serve. The match continues in its equilibrium with the score set at 4-4.

 

Federer responds with a service game held to love, started with a forehand down the line winner and finished with a backhand down the line winner, sending Djokovic to serve to stay in the match down 4-5. Djokovic starts sending a backhand long, but recovers from 0-15 down winning the point with a smash. Federer misses a chance to get to 15-30 missing a forehand on court open. The Serb hits his first double fault of the match at 40-15, but holds to 30 as Federer exaggerates on a forehand return hitting way too long.

 

With Federer on serve at 5-5, the match doesn’t see a turning point, as the Swiss holds to love, winning the game on a deep second serve. Djokovic is called to serve to stay in the match a second time down 5-6. On the longest rally of the set, it is Federer who wins the baseline battle, forcing Djokovic to hit long with his backhand. The Serb quickly recovers with a first serve on Federer’s serve to lead 30-15. Federer steps in the court, attacks on Djokovic’s backhand and wins the point to get to 30-30. In the following point, on another prolonged rally, Djokovic misses first, hitting a forehand wide. At 30-40 Federer has both his first break point and set point. Djokovic takes control of the baseline, insisting on Federer’s forehand and forcing the Swiss to miss. Djokovic then hits his second ace of the match to get to A-40. Federer stays in the game, winning the following point attacking with his cross court forehand. Djokovic doesn’t close a rally with a smash, Federer comes back in the rally and wins the point as Djokovic hits a backhand in the net. At 40-A Federer has a second set point, this time played on Djokovic’s second serve. The Swiss wins the set in spectacular fashion, attacking with his forehand, Roger wins the point with a backhand drop volley that hits the line.

 

After 44 minues, Roger Federer wins the first set by 7 games to 5.

 

Djokovic closes the set with 11 winners and 11 unforced errors. Federer with 13 winners and 10 unforced errors.

 

THE SECOND SET

 

Federer starts the second set holding serve to 15, closing the first game with a strong first serve on the line. Federer takes control of the baseline in the second game, forcing Djokovic to miss first twice. The Swiss swings a forehand down the line full power to get to 0-40 and see three consecutive break points. On the first break chance, Djokovic wins the point with a first serve and forehand winner. On his third chance, Federer hits a sneaky short slice backhand, on which Djokovic has to use one hand and finishes by hitting a tentative of sliced backhand in the net. Federer breaks in the second game and leads 2-0.

 

The Swiss pays off the effort in the following game, as Djokovic gets to double break point at 15-40. On the first break chance Federer wins the point with a first serve, but on the second the Swiss hits a forehand wide. Djokovic breaks Federer’s serve for the first time in the match to get back to 1-2.

 

Djokovic gets back to 2-2 winning the fourth game with a stunning backahdn down the line winner, which leaves Federer still and turn the crowd on fire. The rallies are now growing longer. Federer serves with new balls at 2-2 but starts the game with a double fault. The Swiss recovers firing his 6th ace, then holds serve with a first serve on the line to regain the lead at 3-2.

 

Djokovic fails to be as continued as seen against Nishikori on his backhand. Missing two in the game, the Serb trails back 15-30. The World No.1 then kills a forehand in the net and faces two break points at 15-40. On his first chance, Federer breks firing a backhand down the line passing shot. As the 02 Arena explodes, the Swiss leads 4-2.

 

Djokovic clearly isn’t moving at his best as he keeps on losing the timing on the ball. Federer takes advantage of the momentum to hold to love as Djokovic hits a forehand wide. Federer leads 5-2 and sends Djokovic to serve to stay in the match.

 

Federer has his first match point in the 8th game, with a stunning backhand cross court passing shot. The first match point sees one of the most intense rallies in the match. Federer loses the point after more than 15 shots, hitting an exhausted backhand in the net. Djokovic misses another forehand to let Federer have his second match point. On the second match point Djokovic hits a forehand that is called out. The Serb asks for the challenge to verify the call. Hawk-Eye confirms the call ending the match after 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Federer closed the match with 19 winners and 19 unforced errors and over 70% of the points won on first serve. Djokovic finished with 12 winners and 22 unforced errors.

 

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Dominic Thiem Downs Reigning Champion Zverev In Historic Win At ATP Finals

The 26-year-old has achieved a duo of personal and national records at the London event.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem has become the first Austrian player in history to reach the title match at the ATP Finals after battling his way past Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.

Thiem, who has been battling with flu symptoms throughout the week, showed little signs of physical tiredness as he rallied to a 7-5, 6-3, victory. Securing his sixth career win over Zverev in eight meetings. In their latest clash, he saved all four of the break points he faced and claimed 81% of his first service points.

 

“This is a big dream come true for me.” Said Thiem. “It’s one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year and I’m getting the chance to play in the final. It’s unreal to me.’
“To beat the defending champion, a good friend and unbelievable player is always a great achievement. I’m very, very happy.”

At stake for Thiem in his latest match wasn’t just a place in the final, it was also the chance to rise to number four in the world rankings. The highest-year end ranking of his career to date.

Taking to the court, there was little to tear the players apart throughout the opening set. In two separate Thiem service games, he faced break points, but managed to hold his nerve to draw level. Much to the annoyance of his rival. Ultimately it would be an error-stricken Zverev service game that would separate the two. Leading 6-5, Thiem gained two set-point opportunities thanks to a forehand shank from across the court. After failing on his first attempt, he prevailed on his second at the expense of a Zverev double fault.

There was little emotion showed by the 26-year-old throughout what was a business-like performance. Even his camp, which included former player Nicolas Massu, looked relatively calm. Meanwhile, Zverev lacked the intensity he showed in some of his other matches earlier this week.

The second frame initially followed the same pattern as the first. A seemingly tense Zverev dropped serve midway to elevate the world No.5 to a set and 4-2 lead. In control, Thiem continued to tame the threats he faced. Serving for a historic place in the final, he raced to match point with the help of his sixth ace. The victory was then secured with a clean forehand winner.

“Luckily, I’m feeling much better,” Thiem commented on his current health. “I had some days off and of course I played a match against Matteo (Berrettini), which was not great for my body.”
“I hope I’m feeling even better tomorrow and I will give my everything. It is my last match of the season.” He added.

Thiem will play Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday evening. It will be the seventh meeting between the two and he currently leads their head-to-head 4-2. Should he win, he would become the only player on the ATP tour in 2019 to win six tournaments.

“We are both very offensive players.” He previewed. “He’s very attractive to watch, I love watching him (play). I’m looking forward to playing him.”
“I’m happy and also lucky to get a chance to play him in this amazing atmosphere (at The O2).”

The soon to be world No.4, which was the position Zverev held at the end of 2018, will be playing in his 25th ATP Final on Sunday.

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‘I Tried Everything’ – Frustrated Roger Federer Reacts To ATP Finals Exit

The 20-time grand praises his rival, but questions if mental toughness played a role in their match.

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LONDON: The only consolation for a frustrated Roger Federer is that he is exiting the ATP Finals without any injury woes.

 

The six-time champion was denied the chance of winning the title for the first time since 2011 after suffering straight-sets loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Bringing a bitter end to a season where the 38-year-old has claimed four ATP titles. None of which were at a grand slam tournament. In his latest match, the Swiss Maestro struggled at times to generate consistency in his game as he leaked 29 unforced errors.

“I tried everything I could, to be honest,” Federer said during his press conference. “I tried to chip it, tried to stay back and hit some. I tried to come forward. And for the most part, I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive, but of course with his aggression, it’s not always easy because he always takes the ball very early himself too.”

Federer’s error tally was not the most troublesome aspect of his game, it was his break point success rate of only one out of 12. Shortly after this match, Tsitsipas said he said he was happy to handle what felt like a ‘mental struggle’ to him on the court. However, Federer has a different viewpoint.

“Spinning it (the ball) into the body and then getting an error, I don’t know if that’s, like, mental toughness.” He argues.
“Sure, he didn’t double fault, he didn’t do anything silly, and he’s tough as nails.’
“I’m frustrated that I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again.”

The 38-year-old now has a 2-2 head-to-head record against his younger rival, who was just a four-year-old when he made his debut at the ATP Finals back in 2002. He also lost to him at the Australian Open.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to reach the final of the season-ending event and the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009. He has reached nine ATP finals so far in his career with six of those occurring this year.

“He’s tall and he’s strong up there (upper body). He can loop it and come down on it, and that’s why I also believe he’s good on faster courts and on slower courts. It’s going to be very beneficial for his career.” Federer said of his rival.
“Obviously it’s his footwork that’s always on the aggressive side. Any short ball will be attacked, and I think he does that very, very well. He’s one of the best at that in the game.”

When a member of the NextGen scores a notable win, there is always the same question. Is the change of guard in men’s tennis coming soon? This year they are four players in the ATP Finals under the age of 23 for the first time in a decade.

“I look at the list of who finished World No. 1, who has been World No. 1 all these years, and it’s just crazy that it’s always one of us (the big four). But we are not getting any younger. So chances increase not because we are getting worse but because they are getting better, I believe.” Federer concludes.

Federer will now fly to South America where he will play in a series of exhibitions next week.

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Youth Prevails As Stefanos Tsitsipas Stuns Six-Time Champion Federer At ATP Finals

A shock win has taken the Greek into the final of the season-ending event on his debut.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has ensured that there will be no member of the Big Three in the finale of the ATP Finals after taming third seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Tsitsipas, who is 17 years younger than the 20-time grand slam champion, was relentless in his intensity he battled to a 6-3, 6-4, victory at The O2 Arena. Recording his second win over Federer this year after the Australian Open.

 

In his latest match, the Next Gen player impressively saved 11 out of the 12 break points he faced as he hit 18 winners. Meanwhile, Federer struggled behind his second serve as he won only 11 out of 24 points played. Bringing his season to an end.

“Wow, Jesus. I’m so proud of myself today.” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview. “It was a great performance. Once again the people (crowd) were great and I really enjoyed my time on the court.”
“Sometimes with matches like this you always wonder how you can recover from all those break points down. It’s like a mental struggle, so I’m really proud that I was able to save so many break points today.” He added.

In previous meetings between the two, the serve has been detrimental to the outcome of the match. Since his loss to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, Federer has gone on to defeat the Greek twice without dropping serve. Furthermore, this week in London both men have been impressive in that area of their games. Heading into the semi-finals, Tsitsipas has won 95% of his service games and Federer had won 90%.

It wasn’t long into their latest encounter when the usually reliable Federer service game buckled. In the second game of the match a failed smash from the Swiss Maestro, followed by a winning forehand from Tsitsipas gave the ATP debutant the early break. Tsitsipas’ breakthrough proved decisive to the outcome of the opener as his rival failed to convert a series of golden opportunities. Six times Federer had the chance to break, including two when the world No.6 was serving the set out. Continuing to prevail on the clutch moments, Tsitsipas sealed the 6-3 lead with the help of a 133 mph serve down the center of the court.

It looked as if the 21-year-old would eased his way to the surprise win as he once again capitalized on a lackluster service game from his opponent early in the second set. However, this time Federer finally found a way to break Tsitsipas’ brick wall defense to revive his chances.

Despite the temporary change in momentum, Tsitsipas continued to pounce like a lion. Forcing his rival to be continuously under pressure as he broke once again to restore his lead. There was little Federer could do to change the outcome as the Next Gen star roared his way to victory. Closing out the match with an ace out wide. Prompting him to drop his racket out of disbelief.

“I was trying not to give too much time to Roger.” He commented on his match tactics. “He was playing good and shout out to him as well. He played pretty good this week.”
“Playing him is the biggest honor I can have. Today’s victory is probably one of the best matches of my season.”

Tsitsipas will play either Alexander Zverev, who he defeated earlier in the week during the group stages, or Dominic Thiem. He has a negative head-to-head record against both of those players.

“I have no preference (of who I play).” He said. “I played Sasha in the groups. Obviously, anything can happen in the final. Sasha proved that to us last year in the finals. He was defeated by Novak and then went on to beat him. I just need to be super careful and have a good schedule ahead of my next match.”

Tsitsipas is the youngest player to reach the final of the tournament since Juan Marin del Potro back in 2009.

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