(Updates with comment from Federer in third paragraph.)
Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Defending champion Roger Federer booked his third group win at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London by beating Mardy Fish.
The fourth-ranked Swiss, seeking to win the event for a record-breaking sixth time, defeated the lone American in the field, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 at the O2 arena.
“I’ve played Mardy on a few occasions and he is always extremely dangerous,” Federer, who now has a 7-1 record against Fish, said in a courtside interview. I’m “obviously relieved, and it’s wonderful to have won all three matches in the group.”
The ATP Finals feature a round-robin format. The top eight players in the ATP rankings are divided into two groups of four, with the top two in each section moving into the knockout semifinals.
Federer had already won his group and qualified for the semifinals by routing Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-3, 6-0 in one hour two days ago. He’d defeated France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his opening match.
Federer, 30, is making his 10th appearance at the ATP Finals. He beat world No. 2 Nadal in last year’s championship match to tie Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl as the only men to have won the title five times.
Nadal, who has never won the event, plays Tsonga later today. The winner of that meeting will advance to the last four.
Fish, at 29 the second-oldest man in the field, has now lost all three group matches and cannot advance. The American was playing in his first ATP Tour Finals following the most successful season of his career.
Federer took the first set as Fish dropped all his service games. The American fought back in the second as he raced to a 5-2 lead. Although Federer saved a set point on his own serve with a forehand winner, Fish took the second set as the Grand Slam record holder dumped a backhand into the net.
Federer, a 16-time major winner, regained his rhythm in the final set, breaking Fish in his opening service game. The Swiss went up a double break as he lobbed a service return just over the net. A Fish backhand that sailed wide on match point handed Federer his 15th straight win since the U.S. Open semifinals in September. The American produced 32 unforced errors in the match, eleven more than Federer.
Yesterday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the winner of 10 titles this year including three Grand Slams, was beaten by Spain’s David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-1 in his second group match. It was his fifth loss in 75 matches this year and also the most one- sided. Ferrer’s third career victory over a reigning world No. 1 guaranteed him a spot in the semifinals.
--Editors: James Cone, Christopher Elser.
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