ATP

Federer relishing Djokovic clash in ATP Finals

By Sports Desk November 12, 2019

Roger Federer is thrilled to be going head-to-head with world number two Novak Djokovic in what could be a pivotal ATP Finals encounter for both players.

Federer bounced back from his opening defeat to Dominic Thiem by beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 on Tuesday, and will face Djokovic for the first time since losing in a five-set epic in this year's Wimbledon final.

Last year's runner up Djokovic, who is aiming to dethrone Rafael Nadal as world number one, would secure his progression from the Bjorn Borg group should he beat Thiem in Tuesday's late match.

Depending on the result, and how Thiem does against Berrettini on Thursday, Federer could potentially have to beat Djokovic to ensure his place in the last four.

However, Federer is merely focusing on making sure his own performance is at its highest possible level, as he goes up against an opponent he has faced on 48 occasions in the past, winning 22 times.

"No, I'm excited playing against him. I'm excited to see how he's going to play tonight, as well," Federer told a news conference after his win over Berrettini.

"It's definitely going to give me some more information about what to expect. But other than that, I think I need to focus on my game, what I do best and regardless of what I need to do, I just hope I play well.

"We have played a lot of matches since [Wimbledon], and I think we both look back at a great match. I think we both can take away some confidence from the match. Him, obviously a lot. Me, maybe a tad bit less.

"But at the end of the day, I wasn't hoping [for] him not to be in my section or in my draw. I didn't hope I was never going to play him again.

"Actually, it's good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is."

While Djokovic and Nadal are battling it out for top spot in the ATP rankings, Federer claims he is no longer concerned with where he is placed among the world's elite, as long as his fitness remains in tact.

"Points? Yeah, who cares? Who cares if I'm ranked three, five, nine?" Federer said.

"If I feel like I'm 100 per cent fit, then I feel like I have a chance to win the tournament.

"But if I don't feel that way but I'm ranked one or three or five, whatever it may be, I know it's going to be extremely more difficult and sometimes almost impossible, even though I feel like if I'm in a draw, usually I always give myself a chance."

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    Djokovic needed to win just two matches in Austria to guarantee he will end the year as world number one, unless Rafael Nadal takes up an unlikely wildcard for the Sofia Open. 

    After defeating Filip Krajinovic in the first round, Djokovic took a vital step towards cementing his name in the record books with a 7-6 (13-11) 6-3 victory over Coric on Wednesday. 

    Pete Sampras is the only previous player to have claimed the year-end number one spot on six occasions, doing so between 1993 and 1998. 

    Djokovic is tied with fellow modern greats Rodger Federer and Nadal, who the Serbian lost to in the French Open earlier in October, and Jimmy Connors, but is now set to nose ahead of his rivals, having previously secured top spot in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. 

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    The pair traded blows in an epic opening set which lasted just under two hours – Djokovic eventually coming out on top in a thrilling tie-break after Coric dropped serve for a third time. 

    A first break in set two handed Djokovic the advantage and he then held his nerve to take the eighth game with some wonderful shots in an exhilarating rally, making it 5-3. 

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    Earlier, Stefanos Tsitsipas opted to switch his shoe in the third set of his match with Jan-Lennard Struff, though the third seed ultimately came through the contest to tee up a tie with Grigor Dimitrov. 

    With the third set tied at 1-1, Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas changed his footwear and subsequently broke serve, going on to record a 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 triumph. 

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