Roger Federer loses London final

Six-time champion Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic as 6-7(6), 5-7 in two hours and 15 minutes in ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Federer, now 6-2 lifetime in finals at the season-ending championships, received 800 points. Djokovic now trails Federer 13-16 in their Head2Head series. It was only the fourth time in the 43-year history of the event that the World No. 1 has met the World No. 2 for the title.

Wearing a regal purple-coloured shirt, Federer was relaxed and composed right from the start of the pair’s 29th meeting. Having practised with Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain, three hours earlier, Federer’s game was fluent as he played on the baseline to dictate the early exchanges. Djokovic, by contrast, found himself pinned in the Ad court, leaving half the court exposed. Through the first four games, Federer had hit six forehand winners, having broken Djokovic to love for a 2-0 lead.

“I was just trying to hang in there,” said Djokovic, on being 0-3 down in the first set. “It's not the first time that Roger started against me so well.  I've experienced before his aggression, really trying to put his mark on the match. I didn't know in which direction the match would really go, but I tried to convince myself that I would make a turnaround and I will fight."

In a seven-minute fourth game, Djokovic withstood a stern examination to stay in touch. Perspiring heavily, he conjured up the confidence and discipline to break back for 2-3, after Federer hit a backhand long at 30/40. In the eighth game, lasting nine minutes and 20 seconds, Federer committed six unforced errors, mainly on his forehand wing, and failed to convert four game points before Djokovic broke serve. Both players were deliberately engaging one another in backhand rallies as each attempted to establish their baseline dominance.

“I think there were too many turning points to really pinpoint one because any one of them, obviously, could have thrown the match into a different direction again in the first, and in the second, too,” admitted Federer. “More so in the first maybe because there were more twists and turns. Maybe I have a bit of regret because I had the lead twice, first before him.”

Federer fortuitously capitalised on a lapse in concentration to break back and the set was decided on a tie-break. Interestingly, Federer had won the first set on 20 occasions in their previous clashes. This time, Djokovic was in the ascendancy. Federer recovered from a 0-2 deficit and saved set point at 5-6 in an extraordinary rally, which saw the Swiss lunge and showcase his athletic prowess for a forehand winner, hit close to the net, past a motionless Djokovic. Federer mis-timed a backhand at 6-6 and Djokovic clinched the set in 72 minutes with his 11th winner, a forehand into space. The Serbian has never lost to Federer after winning the first set.

Federer regrouped immediately. The two-time reigning champion battled to win his fourth break point in a 14-minute opening game to the second set, as Djokovic committed five unforced errors to lose his serve. Federer won his service games was relative ease until the eighth game, when Djokovic created one break point opportunity. Although he failed to convert it, he was left to rue missing a short forehand that had bounced up off the net.

Djokovic stayed in touch and then benefitted from four straight errors, after Federer led 40/15 and two set point chances. Fired up, Djokovic screamed in celebration as he levelled at 5-5 after Federer struck a forehand long. Djokovic went onto win his third straight game as the pressure, and the crowd’s focus, shifted to Federer to remain in the match. Federer committed his 19th unforced error of the set (and 42nd of the final) at 30/30, as Djokovic gained championship point. Djokovic fired a backhand pass down the line at 30/40 and pumped his chest as a capacity 17,800 spectators erupted in applause. It was his 30th winner of the encounter.

“Today we had times where we had longer rallies, we had times where we had shorter rallies,” said Federer. “Like I mentioned, I think we had some great stuff out there. It was good playing such points. I think the quality was good.  I shouldn't have been broken as often as I was broken today. But then again, that obviously has something to do with Novak, as well. It was extremely close today.”

Federer, making his 11th appearance, was attempting to become the first player since Ivan Lendl to win three season-ending championship titles in a row (1985-87). The 2003-04, 2006-07, 2010-11 champion has a 42-9 tournament record. He was also looking to capture his 77th crown, which would have tied him at No. 3 with John McEnroe in the all-time title-leaders list.

This year, the 31-year-old Swiss compiled a 6-4 record in finals, including his seventh title at Wimbledon (d. Murray) and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and a 71-12 match record.

Date: 13th November 2012, Source: ATP


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