Roger Federer will be the first to accept that defeating Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals on Thursday night doesn’t make up for his gut-wrenching defeat in the Wimbledon final but he avoided a double blow in London and inflicted some woe on the Serb himself.
Federer’s convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory in front of a roughly 18,000-strong crowd that backed him as vociferously as in July’s Wimbledon final — when he held a pair of match points on his own serve — sent him to the semifinals at the year-end championships at Djokovic’s expense.
“I’m just happy at the level I could play today and obviously it’s always special beating Novak, even more so (after) what happened but I didn’t feel like I had to get rid of the ghosts or anything like that,” Federer told reporters.
“I feel like I moved on pretty quickly after that.” The result also ended Djokovic’s chances of finishing the year as No. 1 ahead of Rafael Nadal and collecting a sixth year-end title to match Federer.
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“It was not much that I did right this match,” Djokovic, who still owns a winning 26-23 record against Federer, told reporters. “Realistically he was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win.
“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.”
No one holds more year-end trophies than Federer in the men’s game, so it’s little surprise this event is also where the 38-year-old snapped a five-match losing streak versus Djokovic.
Djokovic, meanwhile, said he felt a sharp pain in his serving elbow in the second set, but “it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did. It did not pose any form of issues later on.”
Federer finished second in Group Bjorn Borg behind Dominic Thiem, who already topped the group after defeating Federer and Djokovic. The huge-hitting Austrian lost his perfect record, however, falling to Matteo Berrettini in Thursday’s day session at the O2 Arena, 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.