Roger Federer laid on a hard-court master class against Novak Djokovic with a 6-1, 6-4 victory to steamroll into the final of the ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday and set up a match with Rafael Nadal for only the second time this season.
Nadal escaped earlier with victory in a marathon lasting for more than three hours to produce a 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6) defeat of Andy Murray after the battling Scot saved two match points and broke the world number one as Nadal served for the match in the final set.
“We’ve had some epics, some classics and I’m really looking forward to playing Rafa again,” said Federer. “Our styles match up really well.” Federer reached the final of the year-end event without a loss — or a lost set — in four matches, and stands on the cusp of his fifth season-ending title. He fired 31 winners and broke four times in the rout of 79 minutes.
Federer bolted out of the blocks against Djokovic, whom he has defeated in three of four meeting in 2010, including this month’s Basel final in the Swiss player’s home town.
The Swiss went up a double break after less than half an hour, reaching 5-1 on a fourth break chance of that game and lifting the opener 6-1 after 31 minutes as Djokovic fired long, his 12th unforced error against 13 Federer winners.
Djokovic began to look respectable as he broke Federer for the first time to take a 2-0 lead in the second set after the Swiss let loose of a 40-15 lead. But the joy from an increased margin of 3-0 lasted only two games for Djokovic, who produced a pair of unforced errors to give the break back in the fifth game to put it back on serve. Federer won the match pulling away with an untouchable service winner.
Nadal called his won over Murray “a fantastic match, I’m very happy to beat a great champion like Andy. It was an amazing victory.
It was a really difficult match against one of the best players of the world. “His level is unbelievable almost always. If he plays like this, I don’t have any doubt he is going to have big chances to win very important titles.”
Murray showed grit from the start of an inspired contest in front of a home crowd of 17,000, hanging tough with his Spanish opponent who owns three of the four Grand Slam titles this season. “It was a great match, I think both of us played very well,” said the Scot who will move back to fourth in the world to end the season.
“I probably played one bad game the whole match, or maybe just a couple of bad points. “It was great tennis — but I’m disappointed to lose.” Murray saved a match point in the ninth game of the final set and did it again in the final game before Nadal came good on his third chance.
The Spaniard finally ended the drama with a ripping forehand cross-court into the corner. “Even when I was losing 4-1, 3-0 in the final tiebreak, I was happy,” said Nadal “I was saying, ‘Just try to be there, because there is always a chance for me.’ “I was really happy because I was playing a great match. Even if I lose, I had a fantastic season.
“If I lose against Andy playing like this, just congratulate him, go home be very happy for everything, and practice for next year.” Added Murray: “I want to build on this (level) for next year,” said Murray.
Keywords: ATP World Tour Finals