Big stakes, big reward—Federer tops Djokovic for first time since 2015

Big stakes, big reward—Federer tops Djokovic for first time since 2015

The Swiss ended a five-match losing streak against Djokovic and avenged his Wimbledon final defeat to reach the semifinals at the season finale for the 16th time in 17 appearances.

Roger Federer battled Novak Djokovic in a winner-take-all round-robin match at the ATP Finals on Thursday. Federer won, 6-4, 6-3, in the pair's 49th career meeting (Djokovic leads 26-23), to defeat the Serbian for the first time in four years.

In avenging his Wimbledon final defeat—when Djokovic saved two match points and went on to win, 13-12 in the fifth set—Federer advanced to the last four. His opponent will be determined Friday.


Post-match reactions

10:28PM—Djokovic in press: "He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well. From his end, I think he did everything right. From my end, I was just playing too neutral. I couldn't read his serve well. Just a pretty bad match from my side."

9:33PM—On the high-stakes in this match: "I think you always play better as the tournament goes on. In the first round, it's just not that easy. This is where Dominic Thiem has been supreme in our group and made life really difficult for us. I came out and think I served great, had great anticipation and had a clear game plan. It worked to perfection tonight."

9:31PM—On the Wimbledon final rematch: "It was a privilege to play that match. So many ups and downs. I thought I played an incredible tournament. It was a shot here or there that made a difference. He got it. There's nothing you can do there. I stayed calm, I played great until the very end. I could not be more happy right now, of course."

9:29PM—Federer addresses the crowd: "It was a great atmosphere, great opponent here in London. I enjoyed it from the beginning. I played incredible. I knew I had to because that's what Novak does. I was able to produce. It was definitely magical. You guys made it super special. I cannot thank you enough."

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Second set: Federer clinches win, 6-4, 6-3

9:26PM—What a performance. Federer breaks at love to secure his first win since 2015 over the Serbian. He finished with 23 winners to just 5 unforced errors.

9:23PM—The masterclass in serving is still in session. Federer is four points away from reaching his 16th semifinal in 17 appearances at the year-end event.

9:20PM—Djokovic will be pleased after getting to his bench with a routine service game.

9:17PM—Time is running out for Djokovic, who is two games from being eliminated. Federer consolidates for 4-2.

9:12PM—Federer wins a forehand exchange after the Serbian overhits a shot long. The Swiss will serve up 3-2.

9:09PM—Djokovic created his first break point on the back of tremendous defense, but can't convert. Federer's 10th ace levels the set at two games apiece.

9:04PM—The second seed curls a brilliant forehand winner up the line for 2-1. Djokovic looks to be slightly favoring his right elbow during the changeover.

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9:00PM—The 38-year-old is pushed to deuce for the first time, but handles the pressure by continuing to hit his spots on serve.

8:55PM—Djokovic staves off two break points, the second saved when the Serbian got just enough on his backhand pass against his charging opponent. He's yet to release any signs of frustration that might be building inside.


First set: Federer wins 6-4

8:47PM—Federer closes out a remarkable first set with an ace. In their five prior clashes at The O2, the player who won the first set went on to take the match.

8:44PM—An important game for Djokovic. The Serbian comes back from 0-30 to force Federer to serve out the set.

8:40PM—Another love hold for Federer, who increases his ace count to 6: 5-3.

8:37PM—Djokovic is pushed to 30-30, but reaches back for a crucial hold. He'll look to increase rally lengths as Federer has the upper hand in exchanges under five shots.

8:35PM—The six-time champion still locked in on serve and is keeping points short. A second serve ace brings Federer to 4-2.

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8:31PM—Djokovic wins a cat-and-mouse exchange with a backhand volley winner to keep pace.

8:27PM—Federer recovers from 15-30 to hold. He's made 91% of his first serves thus far.

8:24PM—Federer gets some help, as Djokovic opens with consecutive double faults. The Swiss strikes first with great hitting on the backhand to break at love for 2-1.

8:21PM—No problem for Federer in his first trip to the line: 1-1.

8:18PM—In a tense opening game, Djokovic saved a break point by trusting his forehand, then fired two well-placed first serves to hold.

8:13PM—Plenty of cheers erupt as Djokovic steps to the line to begin proceedings.

8:06PM—British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the 2019 world champion, tossed the coin. Federer won and elected to receive.

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8:04PM—The players have taken the court for introductions.


Pre-match notes

Djokovic has won the pair’s past five meetings and has not lost to the Swiss in four years, when Federer won their round-robin match at this very tournament.

The Serbian knows what’s at stake beyond this encounter: he must win the title to finish as the year-end No. 1 over Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic is 3-2 against Federer in London and looking to deny Federer a semifinal berth for the second time in 17 appearances at the year-end championships.

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