ATP

Federer revels in 'magical' victory over Djokovic after Wimbledon heartbreak

By Sports Desk November 14, 2019

Roger Federer described his ATP Finals victory over Novak Djokovic as "magical", having come up short when they last met in an epic Wimbledon final.

Swiss icon Federer earned a brilliant 6-4 6-3 victory at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday to join Dominic Thiem in advancing to the semi-finals at the Serbian's expense.

It was the 19-time grand slam champion's first win against Djokovic – whose defeat meant Rafael Nadal will end 2019 as the world number one – since 2015, with the 32-year-old having been triumphant in each of their previous five encounters.

The most recent of those saw Djokovic stave off a championship point before clinching the Wimbledon title following a tie-break at 12-12 in the fifth set.

Asked what he did differently on Thursday, Federer replied: "I won match point, I guess! It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs.

"I thought I played an incredible tournament … and it's just a point or a shot here and there that made the difference and he got it.

"You move on, try harder next time and hopefully luck goes on your side. I stayed calm, I played great until the very end and I couldn't be more happy right now.

"[It was a] great atmosphere, great opponent. It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.

"I played incredible and I knew I had to because that's what Novak does. I was able to produce. It was definitely magical. You guys [the fans] made it super special, I can't thank you enough."

Federer bounced back from losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem by beating Matteo Berrettini in straight sets and the 38-year-old stepped up his game again to overcome Djokovic.

"You always play better as the tournament goes on, that's why I think we played as well as we did at Wimbledon as well," said Federer, who suffered a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev in last year's ATP Finals.

"Dominic Thiem has been supreme in our group, made life difficult for both of us and put us in the situation that only the winner goes through.

"There was a lot riding on the match and I came out and I think I served great, had great anticipation, a clear game-plan and it worked great – hopefully not for the last time against Novak.

"I'm happy to stick around. Hopefully I'll go a step further than last year, I played a good match against Zverev last year but he was unreal."

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    Tsitsipas, who took Novak Djokovic to five sets in the French Open semi-finals this month, had come from behind to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener in Austria but was this time on the wrong end of a fightback.

    The Greek edged the first set after a tie-break but failed to convert either of his break points in a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 reverse.

    It was Dimitrov who prevailed after two hours and 14 minutes for his first top-10 win of the season, securing a quarter-final against Dan Evans.

    "It's never easy to come out of a situation like that," Dimitrov said. "I was focused, but he went for it.

    "In the tie-break a few close calls here and there went his way. [There was] not much else I could have done, I felt. But I kept on believing and kept on doing the right things.

    "I stayed in the match, which I think was the most important thing. He's such a great competitor. You always have to be ready. I was just focusing on the most simple things of the game."

    The other seeds found life a little easier on Thursday, with Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev each through to face one another.

    Reigning champion Thiem brushed aside Cristian Garin in straight sets, while Rublev was granted a walkover as Jannik Sinner succumbed to a foot injury early in their meeting.

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    Djokovic was not in action, meanwhile, but learned the identity of his Friday quarter-final opponent as Lorenzo Sonego reached the last eight.

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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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    Djokovic's sublime volley close to the net set the tone in the next game and while Coric saved two match points, it was only a case of delaying the inevitable.

    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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    Novak Djokovic battled to a straight-sets win over compatriot Filip Krajinovic in the opening round of the Vienna Open. 

    The world number one, competing in the Austrian event for the first time since winning it in 2007, saved a set point in a tie-break during the opener on his way to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 triumph. 

    He had to work hard as Krajinovic, who lost to Djokovic in last month's Italian Open at the last-16 stage, twice broke serve in a tight opener, helping establish a 5-3 lead at one point. 

    Djokovic hit back in the 10th game to break his opponent for a second time as the opener went to a tie-break, which he edged 8-6 after Krajinovic failed to convert an opportunity when 6-5 up. 

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    "We practiced a few times [together] before coming to Vienna," Djokovic revealed in his on-court interview. 

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    Borna Coric is up next for Djokovic after the world number 26 beat Taylor Fritz on the opening day of action. 

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