By Ros Satar, at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

  • Roger Federer [2] def. Kevin Anderson [4] 6-4 6-3
  • Finishes top of the group is likely to avoid Novak Djokovic, unless Marin Cilic and John Isner win on Friday
LONDON, UK – Roger Federer staged the comeback of the year, after an appalling show in his first-round match, rallies to beat Kevin Anderson in straight sets to finish top of the group.

 

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Roger Federer [2] def. Kevin Anderson [4] 6-4 6-3

It has been a real rollercoaster for World No. 2 and six-time champion Roger Federer. He was little sort of abysmal in the first round, with both he and Kei Nishikori playing very poorly, but he was a lot more focussed in the second round against Dominic Thiem.

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Up until now Kevin Anderson had looked supreme. He was not here to make up the numbers and the self-belief in the rangy South African has been impressive and shown by his results and consistency.

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Kevin Anderson in the first round-robin match at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London

Kevin Anderson in the first round-robin match at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London | (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

However, it all came a little unravelled with one loose service game that saw him broken to love. He steadied the ship by breaking Federer straight back, but Federer just repeated the exercise to regain the advantage. Anderson squandered his three break point chances as Federer clawed the first set, and with that secured his spot in the semi-finals.

Anderson kept things competitive at the start of the second set but looked as though he was starting to tire towards the end. With Federer increasingly animated, he broke the Wimbledon finalist twice in succession, and it was third time the charm for match-points.

With that straight sets win, Federer actually finishes top of the group, and should in theory avoid Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-final – however that could all come to nought if Marin Cilic beats the World No. 1 and John Isner manages to get a first win this tournament over Alexander Zverev.

It is not the first time we have seen the final stages of the round-robin cause a few hiccups, as Federer explained:

“I think my attitude was good today. I think I had an aggressive playing mind-set, a good variation as well with my slice. I think, yeah, it was just a good match from my side. Maybe also for Kevin. Maybe it wasn’t simple because knew he was maybe through. This is the round-robin concept. It can play tricks on your mind maybe. Maybe also he’s thinking ahead, of the semis.

“For me, I always wanted to win this last group stage match regardless of whether I was going to go through or not. For me, it was fairly straightforward in terms of my mindset going into this match today.”

For the No. 4 seed, it was maybe a bumpy return to earth. Alongside Djokovic, Anderson had looked to be the most in-form player in his group, but today it did not seem to click quite as well for him.

Anderson explained: “I feel like some of the things he did today I didn’t really adjust to very well. I thought he used the change of pace very well today. I felt actually okay, pretty good, out on the court, but didn’t execute or play at a high enough level in order to win tonight’s match.

“That was a little bit disappointing because I felt like I played some really good tennis so far. But the plus side is I’m through to the semis. That feels great. That’s step one done. Have tomorrow off, definitely look to come back stronger on Saturday.”

The semi-finals take place on Saturday.

 

 

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