Roger Federer booked his place in the last four of the ATP Finals, tennis’ elite season-ending event, with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.
It was the Swiss great’s second straight win at this indoor hard-court tournament after a stunning loss in his first round-robin match in Group Lleyton Hewitt to Japan’s Kei Nishikori, reports Efe news.
Nerves were apparent from both players at the start of the contest at London’s O2 Arena on Thursday even though Anderson had already secured a berth in the semi-finals earlier in the day when Dominic Thiem won the first set of his match against Nishikori.
Thiem went on to win that contest 6-1, 6-4 to eliminate Nishikori from the ATP Finals, although the Austrian himself was bounced out of the tournament when Federer won the first set against Anderson.
That opening set started as expected with six straight service holds but then ended in an odd way, with both players struggling to win their service games.
Federer struck first when Anderson dropped serve to fall behind 4-3, although the Swiss world No. 3 immediately handed the break back due to costly unforced errors.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion broke his sixth-ranked opponent’s serve at love in the ninth game but then had to rally from 0-40 down to hold serve and finally clinch the first set.
Federer was much sharper, however, in the second set, not facing a single break point and winning two more of Anderson’s service games to wrap up his victory in one hour and 17 minutes.
The key stat of the match was second-serve points won, with Federer capturing 62 percent and Anderson just 32 percent.
Anderson had a 10-3 edge in aces, but Federer struck more winners (18-13) and committed just 14 unforced errors, 10 fewer than his opponent.
The South African did not face a single break point in his first two matches but was broken four times on Thursday night against Federer, who got revenge for his quarter-final loss to Anderson at this year’s Wimbledon.
“Unfortunately I had a rocky service game myself after that (first service break). I didn’t let that frustrate me or disappoint me. I kept on plugging away, kept on trying,” Federer was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour’s Web site.
“I think I had an aggressive playing mindset, a good variation as well with my slice. I think it was just a good match from my side.”