Roger Federer made it through to last four of the ATP Finals for 14th time in 15 appearances after seeing off young German Alexander Zverev 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 6-1 at London’s O2 on Tuesday night.
Federer and Zverev came into their clash having won two games apiece against each other. The Swiss world No 2 beat the German in Halle but Zverev returned the favour at the Montreal Masters.
Rafael Nadal’s dramatic withdrawal leaves Federer as the only genuine star left in London and is the clear favourite to lift his seventh year-end title at the grand old age of 36.
Federer showed a touch of a genius with this magical drop shot
But Zverev is setting tongues wagging after an impressive year in which he has won five tournaments, and Federer was forced to repel three break points against the German as early as the opening game. That was the closest any player got to a breakthrough in a contest which was hotting up nicely.
Federer was motoring by the ninth game, which he wrapped up in just 63 seconds, but his opponent wasn’t going anywhere, and denied the 19-time Grand Slam champion two sets points to take it into a tiebreak.
Federer served up a service game in just 63 seconds in the first set
The 36-year-old usurped a 4-0 lead to the 6ft 6in bit-hitter, who netted his own set point opportunity at 6-5, and paid the price as Federer took it 8-6 after 54 minutes of spectacular action.
When Federer broke a frustrated Zverev at the start of the next set, the writing looked to be on the wall. But the third seed composed himself to hit back and complete a remarkable turnaround to take it into a decider following a loose forehand from the Swiss on his third set point chance in the 12th game.
The Swiss star composed himself again to break down a man 16 years younger with six straight games in the third set to make it through to the semi-finals after two hours and 11 minutes of action.
Shot of the match
The Swiss superstar unleashed this stupendous backhand of the highest order which had a winner speed rate of 3034rpm Federer delight
Federer spoke to Annabel Croft courtside after reaching the semi-finals
“It was a good battle but I always enjoy myself coming out to the O2,” said Federer in his courtside interview. “I think I first qualified for this tournament in Shanghai in 2002 when I was 21, so I’m very excited for Alex – he has a very bright future ahead of him. I’m relieved and I know now I can play freely against Marin Cilic knowing that I have qualified.”
Experts’ verdict What’s next
Federer will play his last round-robin match against Marin Cilic, who he beat in the Wimbledon final earlier this year, while Jack Sock will take on Zverev in a winner-takes-all clash for the right to join the world No 2 in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Federer v Zverev: Match Stats Federer Match Stats Zverev 6 Aces 8 2 Double Faults 8 83% 1st serve win percentage 73% 54% 2nd serve win percentage 43% 4/8 Break points won 2/11 26 Total winners 20 38 Unforced errors 45 109 Total points won 96
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