Nearly unbreakable: Terrific Tsitsipas takes out Federer at ATP Finals

Nearly unbreakable: Terrific Tsitsipas takes out Federer at ATP Finals

The Greek saved 11 of the 12 break points he faced to win the first semifinal at the season finale in London.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the biggest final of his career on Saturday, overpowering Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-4, at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. The 17-year age gap between Tsitsipas (21) and Federer (38) was the largest in tournament history.

Tsitsipas had played a taxing match the day prior in a grueling three-set loss to Rafael Nadal, while Federer completed his round-robin stage on Thursday. The Greek improved to 2-2 in the pair’s head-to-head series, having won their first meeting at the Australian Open. Federer took their next two encounters in Dubai and Basel.

Making his event debut this week, the sixth-seeded Tsitsipas awaits the winner of world No. 5 Dominic Thiem and defending champion Alexander Zverev. Federer was bidding to win the title for the first time since 2011 and was unable to carry over the same intensity and execution displayed in his win over Novak Djokovic, finishing with 17 forehand unforced errors.

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“Wow!” Tsitsipas reflects on his effort

"I’m so proud of myself today. It was a great performance. I really enjoyed my time on the court. Sometimes, matches like this, you wonder yourself how you will overcome these difficulties, all these break points down. It’s a mental struggle. I’m really proud that I managed to save so many break points today. I was trying not to give an easy time to Roger.

"Playing him is the biggest honor that I can have. Today’s victory is probably one of my best matches of this season. These are the moments I always wait for and want to prove the best out of my game."


Second set: Tsitsipas wins 6-4

In his fourth-round loss to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, Federer went 0 for 12 on his break point chances. With the first set mirroring that storyline, his energy understandably dipped. Serving at 1-1, the six-time champion hit three consecutive unforced errors, before losing serve at love. After missing three opportunities to get back on serve, Federer dug in to set up his 10th break point by showcasing all sides of his shot-making. He capitalized on a second serve return to finally convert, causing the arena to erupt with cheers and chants of “Roger! Roger!”

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Tsitsipas responded brilliantly, drawing Federer into physical baseline exchanges. Pushing his opponent’s endurance, Tsitsipas snagged the third break in row to move ahead 3-2 and had no trouble consolidating this time to extend his lead. With Tsitsipas serving for the match, Federer had two chances to extend the clash, but couldn’t come up with the goods, as his opponent refused to give in. Tsitsipas sealed the impressive win with an ace to punch his championship Sunday ticket.

First set: Tsitsipas wins 6-3

As he did against Djokovic, Federer won the toss and elected to receive. He looked to bring the same level of aggression he displayed in his win over the Serbian, but potency and precision were inconsistent in the early stages. Tsitsipas saved a break point in a five-minute game to open the match and was soon rewarded, as the Swiss missed two overheads en route to dropping serve in his first trip to the line.

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For Tsitsipas, it was an important hurdle to clear, as he failed to break Federer in successive straight-set defeats. He recovered from a 0-40 hole in the seventh game and after a love hold from Federer, was once again under pressure when Federer found all corners of the court to create his fifth break point. All set long, Tsitsipas’ ball-striking came alive when Federer looked to shift the momentum. His serve-forehand combination was an effective 1-2 punch and after erasing a sixth break point, clinched the set on his seventh attempt. Tsitsipas played 55 points on serve, to just Federer's 20.