Djokovic fights back to edge Federer in London thriller
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic cemented his place as the number oneplayer in world tennis when he beat Roger Federer 7-6 7-5 to win the ATP World Tour Final in London last night.
Djokovic, who began the year by winning the Australian Open, came from behind in both sets to end Swiss Federer’s hopes of a seventh title at the year-ending tournament.
The 25-year-old hit back from 3-0 down in the first set and then trailed again in the second before claiming victory after two hours 14 minutes of absorbing action.
Federer was looking for a record seventh title and third in a row at the O2 Arena and got off to a flying start but Djokovic hit back and took the opening set 8-6 on a tie-break. It was only the fourth time the top two players in the world have played in the final since the inaugural tournament in 1970.
Federer and Djokovic had met 28 times previously, with the Swiss leading 16-12, while he had also won their two most recent matches, at Wimbledon and in Cincinnati in August.
In contrast, this was Djokovic’s first final in London, although he did win the title the final year the tournament was held in Shanghai in 2008.
On Sunday Federer had begun sloppily against Andy Murray before recovering to win in three sets, but yesterday he was sharp from the start, winning his opening service game in less than a minute.
The same could not be said for Djokovic, who started his first service game with a double fault and could not recover.
Remarkably Federer won the first nine points but Djokovic is the master of digging in and he steadied the ship before breaking back for 3-2 when his opponent’s level finally dropped a little bit.
Djokovic was firmly back in the match now and pushing for another break, which he achieved after a long ninth game.
That left the 25-year-old serving for the set, and he had a set point but he could not take it and there was a huge cheer as Federer broke back when Djokovic netted a forehand.
The Serb was on the floor in the next game as he flung himself after a Federer forehand, which necessitated a patch-up from the trainer, but he recovered from 0-30 to force a tie-break.
Like the rest of the set, it was nip and tuck. Djokovic had the first set point but Federer saved it in a remarkable rally, letting out a roar. A cry of ‘Roger, Roger’ rang out but Federer followed up with an errant backhand and this time Djokovic capitalised.