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Roger Federer beats Kevin Anderson to reach Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals and top Group Lleyton Hewitt

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 15 Nov 2018
  • Federer defeats Anderson in straight sets
  • Swiss star is into the ATP Finals semi-finals for the 15th time
  • Anderson also through to the final four
  • Thiem beat Nishikori earlier on Thursday to round off his year with a win
Roger Federer (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Roger Federer has advanced to the Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals for the 15th time after conquering Kevin Anderson in straight sets to top Group Lleyton Hewitt.

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After falling in his opening match of the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals against Kei Nishikori, Federer faced an uphill battle to avoid crashing out of the season-ending championships in the round robin stage for just the second time in his career, but the Swiss legend recovered brilliantly in his next two matches in Group Lleyton Hewitt, defeating Dominic Thiem and Anderson in straight sets to secure his spot in the final four for the ninth straight time.

With Thiem registering a shock straight sets win over Nishikori earlier in the day, Federer knew he only had to win a set to book his ticket to the semi-finals, but the 37-year-old was also equipped with the knowledge that a straight sets victory would propel him to the top of the group - which almost certainly means avoiding World No. 1 Novak Djokovic until the final.

Also determined to avenge his Wimbledon defeat to Anderson in which he squandered a two-sets-to-love lead and match points, Federer produced a clinical performance to chop down the big-serving South African by a 6-4 6-3 scoreline. The Swiss used his slice backhand very effectively throughout the contest, moving Anderson around and forcing him into uncomfortable positions on the baseline during the 77-minute victory.

Roger Federer shakes hands with Kevin Anderson (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Anderson was yet to be broken after winning his first two matches in his debut appearance at the O2, but Federer was able to break his serve on four occasions, while he also saved three of four break chances behind his own delivery.

"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."

As mentioned, Federer will now likely avoid facing Djokovic in the semi-finals on Saturday. The only way the pair can square off in the final four is if Marin Cilic beats Djokovic on Friday (the Serbian leads their head-to-head 16-2) and the winless John Isner defeats Alexander Zverev in the other match in Group Guga Kuerten.

Despite going down to Federer, Anderson is also through to the semi-finals, becoming the first South African player in the history of the tournament (dating back to 1970) to reach the final four. Anderson will meet the winner of Group Guga Kuerten for a place in the final.

Meanwhile, Thiem ended his season on a positive note, claiming his first win of the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals with a 6-1 6-4 triumph over an erratic Nishikori.

Nishikori launched his ATP Finals campaign with a sensational dispatch of Federer, but the Japanese has been wildly inconsisent since, and it’s cost him a place in the semi-finals.

"I didn't come into the match with too much pressure," said Thiem after the win. "I just wanted to show to myself and all the spectators the real Dominic Thiem."


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Roger Federer beats Kevin Anderson to reach Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals and top Group Lleyton Hewitt

Roger Federer has advanced to the Nitto ATP Finals semi-finals for the 15th time after conquering Kevin Anderson in straight sets to top Group Lleyton Hewitt.

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