Roger Federer defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3 to top the Lleyton Hewitt group and advance to the last four of the ATP Finals.
Federer came out focused against Anderson, who was undefeated in his ATP Finals debut, breaking first, but the second seed played a sloppy service game and struggled to pinpoint his serve to give that break back.
From there on, Federer locked down his game and did well to win 68% of second-serve return points against the big-serving Anderson to triumph in 77 minutes. The 99-time tour-level champion did everything in his power to keep Anderson from settling into a rhythm and to bring Anderson into the net without the tall right-hander necessarily wanting to journey into the forecourt.
The week might not have started off well for the 37-year-old Swiss, who shockingly fell in his opening match against Kei Nishikori in straight sets – the first time he has fallen in two sets at the event in round-robin play. But Federer bounced back to beat Dominic Thiem and now Anderson without dropping a set.
With Thiem’s victory over Nishikori earlier in the day, Anderson was already guaranteed to become the first South African to move into the semi-finals at the season finale since the tournament began in 1970. Federer will face the second-placed competitor in Group Guga Kuerten, while Anderson will clash against the winner.
‘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 said. ‘I think my attitude was good today. 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.
‘The first match was tough against Kei, I never got going,’ Federer added. ‘In the end, I played some good tennis today and I’m very happy. Kevin’s had a wonderful year, and so have the other two guys. It’s been a fun group, with many different kinds of players in the group. I’m thrilled. Thanks for the support, of course, and I’m excited to be in the semis.’
The win is even sweeter for the Swiss maestro, as Anderson came from two sets and a match point down against Federer in this year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals to earn the biggest win of his career en route to the final at SW19.