Even below his best, Roger Federer is good enough to beat David Ferrer at his peak.
Record 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer from Switzerland beat Ferrer 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) at the ATP World Tour Finals to become the first man through to the last four of the season- ending tennis championships.
“I’m into the semis, so that’s a bit of a relief,” Federer said in a news conference after winning his second match this week at London’s O2 arena.
The ATP Finals begins with a round-robin format that divides the world’s top eight singles players and doubles pairs into two groups of four. The top two in each section advance to the single elimination semifinal stage.
Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina beat Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 6-4 in the other Group B match yesterday.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic today in Group A, while U.S. Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray of Britain faces France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the evening.
All four players can advance to the semifinals. Djokovic, who leads the standings with two wins, will reach the semifinals if he beats Berdych and Murray defeats Tsonga.
The fifth-ranked Ferrer, the only Spanish singles player in London in the absence of the injuredRafael Nadal, has won a tour-leading seven tournaments this year, one more than Federer. While the Swiss withdrew from Paris last week to heal some “little things,” the 30-year-old Ferrer was busy winning it.
Ferrer also won the title in his hometown Valencia the previous week and has a shot at overtaking 11-time Grand Slam singles champion Nadal in the rankings should he make the London final. Nadal, a former world No. 1, is ranked fourth.
None of that mattered against Federer, who has won the year-end ATP Finals a record six times, one more than Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.
“He’s the best in history,” Ferrer, who converted one of 10 break points, told reporters. “He can do everything with his game.”
Playing an opponent who has never beaten you isn’t always easy, Federer said.
“It’s helpful to have that one-sided head-to-head record, but at the same time it sometimes creates pressure,” he said. “You always feel like this next match is probably going to happen. You try hard. He tries harder, too, because all he needs is that one win.”
Federer, who now leads Ferrer 14-0 in meetings between the two, counted on his second serve after missing with 60 percent of his first serves in the opening set.
“I could always rely on my second serve throughout my career,” Federer said. “Today, I had to use everything I had in terms of variation, kicking it, sliding it, going all different ways.”
It was too much for his opponent.
“He has a very good slice, very good serve when he needs. He has a lot of weapons to do pain in my game,” Ferrer said.
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