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ATP Finals: Federer produces 'magical' display to beat Djokovic and qualify for semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 14 Nov 2019
  • Federer plays one of his best matches in years to beat Djokovic for the first time since 2015
  • Swiss great advances into the ATP Finals semi-finals for the 16th time in 17 appearances
Roger Federer (PA Images)

It was vintage Roger Federer at the ATP Finals on Thursday night as the Swiss produced one of his best performances in years to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the semi-finals, with his victory also ensuring Rafael Nadal ends 2019 as the World No. 1.

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Federer was almost flawless as he claimed a first victory over Djokovic in four years, emerging triumphant by a 6-4 6-3 scoreline in just 73 minutes to advance into the ATP Finals semi-finals for the 16th time in 17 appearances.

“Great atmosphere, a great opponent here in London at The O2, definitely incredibly special. 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,” Federer said.

After beginning his campaign with a loss to Dominic Thiem before beating debutant Matteo Berrettini, Federer was tasked with a must-win showdown against Djokovic in order to make it out of Group Bjorn Borg.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic shake hands (PA Images)
The 38-year-old hadn’t beaten Djokovic since 2015, losing heartbreaking finals to the Serbian at the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters and Wimbledon this year. However, Federer gained some measure of revenge, striking 23 winners to just five unforced errors in arguably his best match of 2019.

“It’s nice. I’ve tried so hard and come so incredible close against Novak in the last couple of years,” Federer said.
“Wimbledon obviously was epic. Paris Bercy last year I lost 7-6 in the third as well, it was epic. We’ve had so many cool matches in the past, so it was nice to get one, especially with a lot riding on this match.
“I’m sure Rafa was watching too, and from that standpoint it was a magical night for me here at the O2, no doubt.”

Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg and will face the winner of Group Andre Agassi. Stefanos Tsitsipas is currently in first spot, however positions could change on Friday as the Greek comes up against Nadal and Daniil Medvedev faces Alexander Zverev. Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals, but the other three can all still mathematically join him.

Thiem tops Group Bjorn Borg after his brilliant victories over Djokovic and Federer, but the Austrian failed to go undefeated as he lost in straight sets to Berrettini earlier on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Djokovic was full of praise for Federer’s performance and hoped that an elbow issue that surfaced as the match went on won’t keep him out of the revamped Davis Cup Finals next week in Madrid.

“It motivates me. What he’s doing is phenomenal. He’s a role model even for me,” Djokovic said of the Swiss in his post-match press conference.
“You know, the pain was pretty sharp,” Djokovic added of his elbow. “But I could play the rest of the match, so if I had something serious I think I wouldn’t be able to hold the racquet. I hope it’s nothing that will leave me unable to play Madrid.”


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ATP Finals: Federer produces 'magical' display to beat Djokovic and qualify for semi-finals

It was vintage Roger Federer at the ATP Finals on Thursday night as the Swiss produced one of his best performances in years to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the semi-finals, with his victory also ensuring Rafael Nadal ends 2019 as the World No. 1.

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