Roger Federer loses opening ATP Finals group match to Dominic Thiem as Swiss star gets set to meet Novak Djokovic in London
- Roger Federer lost his opening ATP Finals game to Dominic Thiem 7-5 7-5
- Federer will face Novak Djokovic to save his chances of making the semi final
- The pair last met at Wimbledon this summer where Djokovic won a tight match
Novak Djokovic broke Roger Federer’s heart at Wimbledon this summer, and now he could end up knocking him out of the ATP Finals this week.
The 38 year-old Swiss went down to a surprise 7-5 7-5 defeat against Dominic Thiem in his opening group match at the 02 Arena on Sunday, jeopardising his chances of making the weekend semi-finals.
He will now meet Djokovic on Thursday, and there is the chance that the Serb – who saved two match points against him in the SW19 final – could bring his season to an abrupt end.
Roger Federer lost his opening game of the ATP Finals to Dominic Thiem on Sunday night
Federer has never failed to make the last four when this eight-man finals event has taken place in London (since 2009), and not all hope is lost.
He was beaten in his opening match a year ago by Kei Nishikori and still progressed, and it would be a major shock if he did not beat Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini, the weakest player in the field on Tuesday.
‘It’s a normal tournament from here on forward,’ reasoned Federer later. ‘ Not allowed to lose any more for me. That’s how it is every week of the year for the last 20 years, so from that standpoint there is nothing new there.’
The Swiss master, who had a two-week break after winning his hometown ATP event of Basle, will need to be sharper than this, although Thiem played an excellent match.
Perhaps he had been buoyed by the performance earlier in the day of his girlfriend Kristina Mladenovic, who was the outstanding player as France beat Australia to win the Fed Cup final in Perth.
What is beyond dispute is that in the twilight of his career Federer remains tennis’s number one drawcard.
The Swiss star was downed 7-5 7-5 and faces an uphill battle to qualify for the semi finals
On a cold Sunday night in November the 17,000-capacity was packed out for what is the penultimate year that the event will be held in the capital before moving to Turin.
He recovered from an early break down but then dropped his serve at 5-5 in both sets, shanking the ball too often and outplayed from the baseline.
Thiem maintained his strong record against Federer, whom he has now beaten five times out of seven.
‘You don’t get any presents from him. He puts in all the returns, there are nerves,’ he said. ‘Not every day you are playing here in this arena against Roger and I am pleased I pulled through.’
Federer will take on Novak Djokovic on Thursday as the pair do battle again in London
They last faced off at the Wimbledon final this summer in which the Serb won a close contest
Earlier Djokovic had ruthlessly exploited the shortcomings of Berrettini to win 6-2 6-1. Yet again he looked almost embarrassingly superior compared to a young challenger.
Britain’s Joe Salisbury, playing the part of a Murray brother as Britain’s sole representative this year, is left with plenty to do to qualify for the semi-finals after an opening group loss on his debut at the event.
He and American partner Rajeev Ram went down 6-3 6-4 to South Africa’s Raven Klaasen and Kiwi Michael Venus, but can still go through with two wins.
In Perth Mladenovic won both her singles and doubles on the second day against world number one Ash Barty to clinch the Fed Cup 3-2 for France, teaming with Caroline Garcia in the deciding doubles.
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