Roger Federer must wait for 100th title after ATP Finals defeat
The 37-year-old beaten in semi-final in London by 21 year-old Alexander Zverev
Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer after their match at the O2 Arena. Photograph: Getty Images
The 37-year-old Federer, whose 99 titles are second only to the 109 of Jimmy Connors, began the day’s first semi-final as favourite but it was German Zverev who revelled in the big match atmosphere at a packed O2 Arena to win 7-5 7-6(5).
Saturday’s clash between the Swiss winner of 20 Grand Slam titles and the tousle-haired youngster tipped to lead the sport into a brave new era once the holy trinity of Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal depart the stage, did not disappoint.
After 11 games without so much as a break point it was Federer who surprisingly blinked first.
Zverev curled a superb running forehand pass down the line to get to 0-30 on the Federer serve and was then gifted two points and the set as the second seed’s forehand malfunctioned.
Federer was not about to be ushered off one of his favourite stages without a fight though and a rapier-like backhand pass gave him the early break in the second set, only for Zverev to hit back immediately to cancel out the advantage.
The German, winner of more matches than any other player on Tour this year, had his opponent in trouble when Federer served at 3-4 but the Swiss reeled off four points to stay on level terms in the set.
Chants of “Let’s Go Roger, Let’s Go” reverberated around the darkened arena as the second-set tiebreak began and there were boos as Zverev stopped a rally when trailing 3-4 because a ballboy had dropped a ball.
There were then gasps of despair from the Federer diehards when their man got a little too delicate with an attempted drop volley at 4-5 to hand Zverev two match points.
Federer saved one but Zverev would not be denied, belting away a backhand drive volley to end the contest.