Is This The End Of The Road For Roger Federer?

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 10, 2019 Roger Federer of Switzerland gestures at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai. – Men’s Grand Slam singles record-holder Roger Federer said on June 10, 2020 he would be sidelined until 2021 after undergoing keyhole surgery on his right knee. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP.

 

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his “highest level” after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways, 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule.

Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men’s Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer’s mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain’s Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II.

Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

– ‘Golden’ ambitions –

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer’s last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.

AFP

Federer Tops List Of Highest-Paid Athletes, Ronaldo Second

In this file photo taken on February 07, 2020 Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts after his victory against Spain's Rafael Nadal during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town. RODGER BOSCH / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 07, 2020 Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts after his victory against Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

Roger Federer topped the 2020 Forbes magazine list of highest-paid global athletes announced Friday, leading the lineup for the first time with pre-tax earnings of $106.3 million (95.5 million euros).

The Swiss tennis legend, a men’s record 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, becomes the first player from his sport atop the annual list since its 1990 debut, rising from fifth in 2019.

Federer’s haul over the past 12 months included $100 million from appearances fees and endorsement deals plus $6.3 million in prize money. His previous best showing was second in 2013.

“His brand is pristine, which is why those that can afford to align with him clamor to do so,” University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter told the magazine.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic that shut down sports worldwide caused the first decline since 2016 in the total income of the world’s 100 top-paid athletes, a 9% dip from last year to $3.6 billion. Another plunge is expected next year from the shutdown.

Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo was second on the list at $105 million, $60 million in salary and $45 million from endorsements, with Argentine football hero Lionel Messi third on $104 million, $32 million of that from sponsorship deals.

Messi and Ronaldo, who have traded the top spot three of the past four years, saw their combined incomes dip $28 million from last year due to salary cuts when European clubs halted play in March.

Brazilian footballer Neymar was fourth overall on $95.5 million, $25 million from endorsements, while NBA star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was fifth on $88.2 million, $60 million of that from endorsements.

NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was sixth on $74.4 million with former teammate Kevin Durant next on $63.9 million.

Tiger Woods, the reigning Masters champion and a 15-time major winner, was eighth on the list and tops among golfers at $62.3 million, all but $2.3 million from sponsor deals.

Woods topped the Forbes list a record 12 times before an infidelity scandal helped end his run.

Two NFL quarterbacks rounded out the top 10 with Kirk Cousins ninth at $60.5 million and Carson Wentz 10th on $59.1 million.

The top 100 featured athletes from 21 nations and 10 sports. More NBA players made the list than those from any other sport at 35, but 31 NFL players made the cut, up from 19 from last year, and they pulled down the most money of any league, aided by finishing the season before the deadly virus outbreak.

Major League Baseball, whose start to the 2020 campaign was postponed by the virus outbreak, put only one player on the list after 15 in 2019. The lone MLB player was Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who was 57th at $27.3 million with only $750,000 from endorsements.

Spanish footballer Carlos Ramos, the Real Madrid captain, was last among the 100 on $21.8 million, including $3 million in endorsements.

Two women, tennis stars Naomi Osaka of Japan and Serena Williams of the United States, made the list, the most females on it since 2016. Osaka ranked 29th overall on $37.4 million ($34 million in endorsements), four spots ahead of Williams with $36 million ($32 million in endorsements).

Federer pitchman magic

Federer, 38, boasts the biggest sponsorship lineup among active athletes with Moet & Chandon and Barilla among those paying from $3 to $30 million to link him with their brands.

Federer, who spent a record 310 weeks as world number one, reached 18 of 19 Grand Slam finals from 2005-2010.

Only Woods has joined Federer in making $100 million in sponsor deals in a single year.

Federer’s newest deal is with Swiss running shoe On, where he is an investor, but several sponsors have been with him for more than a decade, including Rolex, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, and Wilson.

A split with Nike in 2018 opened Federer to Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo’s 10-year deal worth $300 million.

Federer Undergoes Knee Surgery, To Miss French Open

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 7, 2020 Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts after his victory against Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town.
RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

Roger Federer has undergone surgery to resolve a longstanding knee problem and said Thursday he would be out of action until after the French Open.

The 20-times grand slam winner revealed on his Facebook account that he underwent surgery in Switzerland on Wednesday and would miss a string of tournaments including the May 24-June 7 French Open.

“As a result, I will miss Dubai, India Wells, Bogota, Miami and the French Open,” he said.

The 38-year-old explained that he had intended to avoid surgery if possible but the knee problem refused to go away.

“My right knee has been bothering me for a little while,” said the world number three who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals last year.

“I hoped it would go away, but after an examination and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland yesterday.”

“After the surgery, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery.

“I can’t wait to be back playing again soon, see you on grass!”

AFP

Federer, Nadal Make History In South Africa

Spain's Rafael Nadal (L) plays a return to Switzerland's Roger Federer (R) during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town on February 7, 2020. RODGER BOSCH / AFP
Spain’s Rafael Nadal (L) plays a return to Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town on February 7, 2020.
RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal attracted what organisers said was a world record crowd for a tennis match when they played an exhibition event in the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.

The organisers said an audited attendance of 51,954 beat the 42,517 who watched Federer play Alexander Zverev of Germany in Mexico City last November.

They also announced that the ‘Match in Africa’ raised $3.5-million for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports educational and athletic programmes for children in Africa.

READ ALSO: Kenyan Athlete Wins 2020 Lagos Marathon

“To have 51,954 people in attendance at a tennis match, I never thought I’d be a part of something like that,” said Federer. “It’s not something you dream about.

Federer, who was accompanied by his South African mother, Lynette, said his first appearance in South Africa was a special occasion.

“The first time here in Cape Town, in South Africa, means so much more than just tennis,” he said.

Federer won 6-4 3-6 6-3 in a match in which the players had to contend with cool, windy conditions in the stadium that was built for the 2010 football World Cup.

The arena was packed with eager fans who sang, clapped and did the wave throughout the match.

“It’s an amazing crowd, an amazing stadium,” said Nadal, who was making his first appearance in South Africa since playing in the country as a junior.

“It’s an unforgettable evening. We will probably never play again in an atmosphere such as this one,” said Nadal. “I can’t thank enough the people here in Cape Town. They came here and created an unforgettable atmosphere.”

Earlier in the day, Federer and his doubles partner billionaire Bill Gates beat Nadal and South-African born comedian  Trevor Noah in a match  with more flexible rules.

The ceremonial coin toss was performed by World Cup-winning Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who presented Federer with a Springbok jersey. The coin used was a commemorative 20 Swiss Francs piece minted with Federer’s face. He gave it to Kolisi.

Other high-profile South African sports stars in attendance included former Springbok captains John Smit and Jean de Villiers as well as Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling.

The match is the sixth edition of the event organised by the Roger Federer Foundation and is the first to take place in Africa.

“There’s so much anticipation that goes into it that the match itself almost gets forgotten,” said Federer before the match.

He said he spent childhood holidays in South Africa.

“The time spent here as a kid was amazing,” Federer said. “You would go on the road and you never come back for some reason because you’ve gotta chase that little tennis ball and you’ve gotta chase your dreams.”

Tens of thousands of fans showed up early and were ecstatic when Nadal and Federer hit practice balls into the stands.

One fan said she brought a wedding ring for Federer to propose to her. “I want to marry Roger,” she shouted.

Earlier in the afternoon, Federer and Nadal played tennis with children from townships in Hout Bay.

The children are part of an afterschool activity program with Zip Zap Circus which develops gross and fine motor skills.

 

AFP

Djokovic Breezes Past Federer Into Australian Open Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory against Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) during their men’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 30, 2020.
DAVID GRAY / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic shattered the hopes of ailing rival Roger Federer Thursday to sweep into a record eighth Australian Open final and move closer to his 17th Grand Slam crown.

The pair boasts one of world sport’s greatest rivalries, and after a tentative start, the Serb quickly reinforced his recent dominance, showing no mercy to the Swiss maestro in a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-3 win.

He will play either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or seventh-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

AFP

Federer Pulls Off Great Escape Against Sandgren In Australian Open

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Tennys Sandgren of the US during their men’s singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2020.
William WEST / AFP

 

Roger Federer pulled off one of the greatest escapes of his career Tuesday, saving seven match points to come from two sets down and beat Tennys Sandgren for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.

In a drama-packed match, the normally ice-cool Swiss was slapped with a coded warning for swearing and needed a rare medical timeout for a mystery injury before winning 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.

His reward is a showdown against either long-time rival and seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

AFP

Australian Open: Federer Roars Into Record 15th Quarter-Final

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics during their men’s singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2020. Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

 

Roger Federer flicked a switch after losing the opening set to crush Marton Fucsovics and book a record 15th Australian Open quarter-final on Sunday, with unheralded American Tennys Sandgren his next hurdle.

The Swiss master took time to work out the Hungarian but when he did it was one-way traffic, romping to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena to edge closer to a seventh Melbourne title and 21st Grand Slam crown.

Awaiting him in the last eight on Tuesday is the 100th-ranked Sandgren, who upset 12th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini over four intense sets.

“It was a tough start, Marton played very clean,” said Federer, who is into his 15th Melbourne quarter-final, surpassing John Newcombe’s 14.

It will also be his 57th appearance in the last eight at Grand Slams. No one else is close, with Novak Djokovic next in line on 46.

“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to figure it out. From the beginning of the second set it got a little bit easier,” he added.

Sandgren, a devout Christian, achieved his best Grand Slam result at Melbourne Park by reaching the last eight in 2018, but it was overshadowed by a row over his political views and links to right-wing activists.

He has put the controversy behind him and shown battling qualities to make the last eight again and said he was relishing the chance to play an all-time great.

“It will be very special, very special. To play him on a big stage like quarters of a Slam would be a ton of fun really,” he said.

The pair have never met before, as Federer noted: “I’ve played a lot of tennis in my life but never against Tennys.”

 Millman epic 

The ageless Federer was pushed to a gruelling five sets by John Millman in round three but showed no signs of tiredness against Fucsovics despite being 38.

Both players took time to feel each other out and it went with serve to 3-3 before the Hungarian grabbed the first break on the back of some high-quality service returns.

The unheralded 27-year-old ranked 67, looked composed, with his power and aggressive forehand unsettling Federer and he held his nerve to grab the set — the first he had ever taken off the Swiss.

Undaunted, Federer kept has cool, started to find Fucsovic’s weaknesses and dictate the points, earning a break to go 2-0 ahead in the second set.

He didn’t let up as the Hungarian struggled to stay in touch, broken again as the tide turned and normal business resumed for the Swiss great.

Fucsovics, who was attempting to become the first player from his country to make the Melbourne quarters, was shellshocked as Federer turned on the style.

He raced to a double break lead in the third with some brilliant passing shots and there was no way back for a player who came into the match in decent form, winning his three previous matches without dropping a set.

Federer, who could face Djokovic in the semi-finals if he gets past Sandgren, wrapped it up in 2hrs 11mins, almost two hours less than his third-round epic against Millman.

AFP

Australian Open: Federer Survives Epic Five-Set Thriller

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Australia's John Millman during their men's singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 24, 2020. William WEST / AFP
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Australia’s John Millman during their men’s singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 24, 2020.
William WEST / AFP

 

Six-time champion Roger Federer said it was a “big relief” to survive an epic five-set marathon and seal his 100th Australian Open win on Friday, fending off a dogged challenge from John Millman.

The Swiss master was rattled by the all-guns-blazing Australian, but scraped through 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8) to stay alive in his quest for a 21st Grand Slam title.

He will take on unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who eased past American Tommy Paul in straight sets, for a place in the last eight.

“It was tough tonight, thank God it was a super breaker,” said the third seed, who looked out for the count when he was down 8-4 in the best-of-10 fifth set super tiebreaker.

“He played a great match. It came down to the wire. What a match.

“This one was unique in many ways that I was able to turn a super breaker around like this in an atmosphere, it was crazy, fun, and I couldn’t be more happy. Big relief.”

“Things were extremely difficult, not just in the breaker, (but) throughout the match for me against John,” he added.

Millman said he “left it all out there” and praised Federer, saying: “That’s what the best players I guess do.”

Federer not only gained a 100th victory at Melbourne Park but became the only player, man or woman, to post a century of victories at two different Slams.

The Swiss great reached three figures at Wimbledon last year.

He is one of only four players in the 100 club — Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon, and Chris Evert and Serena Williams at the US Open, are the others.

It nearly didn’t happen against the 47th-ranked Australian Millman, who memorably beat Federer over four gruelling sets in the round of 16 at the US Open in 2018.

One of the fittest players on tour, Millman broke Federer in the fourth game of the opening set.

The 38-year-old Federer, struggling to find his rhythm, fell 5-2 behind. He broke in the ninth game only for Millman to immediately break back to love thanks to poor Federer serving and take the set.

The second went with serve until the Swiss took his game to another level in the tiebreaker.

Federer wrestled control as he won the third set, but Millman came roaring back, excelling in the baselines rallies to break for a 4-3 lead and take the match into a fifth set.

The pair shared breaks in the tense decider and it went to a tiebreak with Federer looking dead and buried at 8-4 down.

But he stayed calm and hauled himself back to win a Grand Slam classic.

 

AFP

‘Passion, Love’ – Rafael Nadal Shares Success Tips

Spain's Rafael Nadal speaks at a press conference ahead of the Australia Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2020. Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP
Spain’s Rafael Nadal speaks at a press conference ahead of the Australia Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2020.
Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal said passion and positivity had helped him reach an unprecedented third decade ranked world number one, after defying the ravages of injury and the critics who said his all-action game was too tough on his body.

Despite a steady stream of foot, knee, back, arm, hand and wrist injury setbacks, the 33-year-old has returned time and again to become the only player to top the rankings in three different decades.

“I can’t say I have been lucky with injuries, because I have not,” the Spaniard said on Saturday, when asked about his longevity in the game.

“But there is no secret, no? There is only about passion, about love for the game, and about being able to stay positive in the tough moments.”

Nadal’s physical, uncompromising approach is often contrasted with his great rival Roger Federer, who appears more effortless on court and — after far fewer injuries — is still going strong at 38.

But the fighting qualities that have taken Nadal to 19 Grand Slam titles on court have often been evident off it, as he was repeatedly able to recover from injury and return to the top.

“It’s true that I went through some tough situations during all my career. But I was able to always, with probably the positive attitude and with the right people around — they were the key — I was able to find a way to keep going, no?” he said.

“It’s difficult for me to imagine because for my style of game, as a lot of people said, my career should be little bit shorter. But here we are. Happy for that.

“Even for me is a big surprise to be where I am at my age.”

 

AFP

Federer, Nadal Donate $172,000 For Australian Fire Victims

Roger Federer of Switzerland (L) and Nick Kyrgios of Australia pose with firefighter Alistair Mason (C) as they and other top players play in the Rally for Relief charity tennis match in support of the victims of the Australian bushfires, in Melbourne of January 15, 2020, ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. WILLIAM WEST / AFP

 

Tennis superstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal jointly donated Aus$250,000 (US$172,000) for Australian bushfire relief at a charity fundraiser in smoggy Melbourne on Wednesday.

The two tennis legends, with 39 Grand Slam singles titles between them, were at the Rod Laver Arena in a bid to swell the vast sums already donated to help victims of the devastating disaster.

They were joined by a who’s who of the tennis world, including Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Dominic Thiem, Coco Gauff, Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

“Twenty years this has been my home and I’ve had so many great matches on this court and in this country,” said Williams, whose young daughter Alexis Olympia was thrilled to meet some firefighters this week.

“And that’s we’re all here tonight to support and help out.”

Tennis Australia said it expected the “Rally for Relief” to raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to add to the more than Aus$2.8 million (US$1.9 million) already stumped up by the global tennis community.

That has included personal pledges and Aus$100 for each ace hit during the Australian tennis swing. Some of the big names also donated merchandise for an online auction Wednesday.

Williams led a team in Fast4 doubles, a shortened version of the game, boosting Thiem and Kvitova, along with Nadal and Djokovic playing together on the same side of the net.

They met Wozniacki’s side that featured Gauff, Osaka, Zverev and Tsitsipas.

But the evening’s star turn saw Federer play a set against Australian bad boy Kyrgios, who has been driving force behind the fundraising effort.

“It’s emotional stuff,” said Kyrgios. “I just want to have a little fun out here tonight and hopefully we can overcome this.”

The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives, destroyed almost 2,000 homes and razed vast tracts of land.

Toxic haze from the blazes has disrupted the build-up to next week’s Australian Open, with qualifying delayed over the past two days and some players taken ill.

A cool change bringing rain swept through on Wednesday afternoon, raising expectations of clearer air for Thursday.

Tennis chiefs have insisted any delays to the Grand Slam’s scheduled start on Monday were unlikely given Melbourne Park has three roofed stadiums and eight other indoor courts which could be used in an emergency.

The roof of the Rod Laver Arena was closed for the charity evening.

AFP

Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates his straight sets win over Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in their men’s singles round-robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 14, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer produced a near-flawless performance as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory on Thursday.

The Swiss started the tournament with a chastening straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem but found his best form when it mattered.

Defeat for the second seed spells the end of his bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.

READ ALSO: Loew Downplays Germany As Euro 2020 Favourites

Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, six-time champion Federer looked in the groove from the start, cranking up the pressure on Djokovic’s serve and dropping just three points on his own serve in the first set.

The Serbian upped his game at the start of the second set but Federer, 38, saved the one break point he faced and broke twice to canter to victory.

The third seed, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, is into his 16th semi-final at the year-end event.

Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.

“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer, who hit 23 winners and made just five unforced errors. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.

“I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical.”

Speaking about what was different from the Wimbledon final, where he squandered two championship points on his own serve, he said: “I won match point I guess.

“It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”

Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Thiem, who also beat Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.

Metronomic Federer

Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.

As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.

Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and 32-year-old Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.

In the next game, Djokovic slipped to 15-40 and sailed a forehand long to give Federer his second break of the match. The Swiss broke once more to close out the victory.

Djokovic had won his past five meetings with Federer, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July.

“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well…. He did everything right.”

In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Fifth seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.

AFP

Federer Stays Alive At ATP Finals With Berrettini Win

Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) shakes hands with Italy’s Matteo Berrettini after winning their men’s singles round-robin match on day three of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 12, 2019. Federer won the match 7-6, 6-3. PHOTO: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Roger Federer kept alive his hopes of a seventh ATP Finals crown on Tuesday, beating Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 at London’s O2 Arena.

The Swiss third seed put himself under enormous pressure by losing his first match on Sunday in straight sets in Group Bjorn Borg to Dominic Thiem.

The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for Berrettini, who won just three games against Novak Djokovic in his opener.

Both players were solid on serve in the first set, with Federer struggling to make inroads against the eighth seed.

The Swiss eventually earned himself the sniff of a chance in the 12th game, winning the first break point of the match but Berrettini snuffed out the danger and held to take it into a tie-break.

Federer upped the level of his game in the shootout, helped by some wayward shots from his opponent plus a Berrettini double-fault and won it comfortably 7-2.

The Swiss, clad in black, broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the Italian with a mountain to climb.

Berrettini earned a clutch of break points in the eighth game but Federer eventually served himself out of trouble.

Federer, as usual enjoying the lion’s share of support from the crowd, broke in the next game to seal the set 6-3.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he had remained calm and tried to stay positive after the Thiem defeat.

“There’s no reason to be too down on yourself,” he said. “We came here to play three matches and give it all we have. It was the big goal of the season to come here and qualify which we did, plus I had a day off.”

“Not everything was bad (in the Thiem match) but of course if you over-analyse it, all of a sudden it can be,” he added. “I was ready, I was prepared today and that’s what matters the most.”

Djokovic and Thiem hope to take a major step towards qualifying for the semi-finals when they meet in the later match at the O2 Arena.

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.

The top two players from each group qualify for the semi-finals.

AFP