Clinical Federer closes in on semi-final berth

Roger Federer is on the verge of qualifying for the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Finals after he recorded his second straight Group B win on Tuesday afternoon at London's O2 Arena.

The second seed and six-time champion at the season finale defeated fourth seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 for his 70th match win of the year, which includes fifth trophies. He is also attempting to become year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for the sixth time.

"I think with my game, I have the capability of really making him feel uncomfortable, mixing it up," said Federer following the match. "But it's not always possible. He's shown in the past when he gets the upper hand against any player from the baseline, he's very difficult to beat. Today for some reason he couldn't get it done. Maybe I was playing too well defence and offense, mixing up my serve good enough... It was really important to take advantage of the fact that I was feeling really good, and then maybe he was struggling a little bit today."

The 33-year-old Federer will qualify for the semi-finals if Milos Raonic beats Andy Murray in Tuesday’s evening match. The Swiss could also qualify if Murray defeats Raonic in three sets.

"The advantage of being qualified, if that were to happen, is just that you can go into the match a bit more laid back," Federer told reporters. "But there's so much still at stake, wanting to beat a rival, wanting to win the points that are at stake, go in with a clean sheet into the semis is the way to go. I'm happy after two matches I'm standing here with two wins. It's very positive."

The Swiss hit 11 winners, including four aces, in the 35-minute first set against Nishikori, who had strapping applied to his right wrist at the changeover at 4-1. Federer saved two break points in a 14-point third game, prior to breaking Nishikori to 30. He then broke Nishikori in the third and seventh games of the second set.

"I've know Kei since he was 17 years old and always thought he was a great talent. He's going to have a great future so I'm very pleased with the way I played," Federer said.

"I'm looking forward to playing Andy. We've played some of the greatest matches.

"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to watch him tonight though. I've got kids so it's during a time where I usually put everybody to bed!"

Federer has never lost his second round robin match (13-0) at the season finale. If he were to qualify for his 12th semi-final, it would tie the record of Ivan Lendl. He would also be the oldest player to advance to the last four since 2003 runner-up Andre Agassi.

Nishikori needed treatment on his right wrist during the match, but he hopes to be fit to face Raonic.

"It was just a little bit of soreness. I have one more day off, so I will try to recover well and hopefully I can win the next one," he said.

"I didn't play really bad. But I wasn't really consistent with my serve and I had a few unforced errors.

"Roger took the important points and he didn't give me a chance to come back.

"Actually I never feel that he's 33 right now," Nishikori told reporters. "He looks still young and is playing amazing tennis. I think the age doesn't matter. I think he's getting better every time."

Nishikori, the first Asian player to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, has a 1-1 record in round-robin play. He will now face Raonic in his final group match on Thursday, having dropped to 53-13 on a career-best season.

Date: 11th November 2014, Source: ATP, Reuters and AFP


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