In the winner-take-all battle between two ultimate ATP Finals champions in 2019, Roger Federer toppled Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in swift 73 minutes to advance into the semi-final. Making his debut at the premium ATP event in 2002, Roger Federer missed the opportunity to reach the last four only in 2008, delivering an incredible consistency and proving his class once again at 38, becoming the oldest player who defeated Novak Djokovic!
It was the 49th clash between two legends and the first triumph for Roger over Novak in four years, ousting the Serb in the round-robin stage here in London in 2015 and suffering five straight losses after that, including that tough one at Wimbledon after having match points.
Eager to avoid the same scenario, Roger mastered Novak in almost every department and sealed the deal in no time to send the Serb out from the tournament before the semi-final for the first time since 2011. Thus, Djokovic lost a chance to become the year-end no.
1 for the sixth time, allowing Nadal to secure the fifth honor. Novak played well against Matteo Berrettini before letting victory slip out from his hands against Dominic Thiem in the second round-robin match. He had to beat Roger to secure the place in the semis and add 200 extra points to his tally that would have kept him in contention for that year-end no.
1 spot. Instead of that, Novak presented a shaky performance to stay way below Roger's level, holding his right elbow occasionally and looking flat on the court, with nothing to challenge an inspired rival. The Swiss earned the 23rd triumph over the Serb after firing 11 aces and fending off the only break point, mounting the pressure on Djokovic.
Novak lost almost half of the points in his games and suffered three breaks from seven chances offered to Roger, despite serving at 74%! Roger hit a service winner in almost every second serve and had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes.
Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals 2019 for first time since 2015.
The Swiss stayed on the same level with the Serb in the rallies that passed the fourth or fifth stroke and finished the encounter with 23 winners and only five unforced errors for one of the season's best performances.
Djokovic played against a break point in the first game of the clash, erased it after forcing Federer's error and held with a service winner to avoid an early setback. Roger delivered a comfortable hold in game two with an ace and broke Novak at love in game three for a massive boost.
From 30-15 down in the next game, Federer fired three service winners to confirm the advantage and landed four more direct points in games six and eight to stay in front and move 5-3 in front. Novak held from 30-0 down in the next game to prolong the set before Roger secured the opener with four winners a few minutes later for 6-4 after 35 minutes.
Djokovic repelled two break points in the second set's first game and created that only chance on the return at 2-1, denied by a winner at the net from Federer, who broke at 15 in the next game for a massive step towards the finish line.
The Swiss held at 30 in game six and landed four winners to games later for 5-3, forcing Novak to serve for staying in the match. Federer broke him at love following Djokovic's volley error and celebrated an impressive victory that carried him into the semis.
"The thing is, matches against Novak are not always on your racquet, but I think it is about clarity when to do what, which is not always easy to find, especially on the fast court. Also, it is the most essential element on the fast court, where things happen quickly if you doubt yourself.
That's where the problem lies and what occurred to me against Thiem or Berrettini. I wasn't sure how to serve, how to place my shots and how aggressive to be. I felt great against Djokovic, having a great rhythm on serve and movement and a desire to play from inside the court and aggressive.
I was able to do that and beat Novak today. I'm always trying to believe and improve my game, not thinking about the Wimbledon final and negative stuff but moving forward, monitoring my game on the practice court away from the press and fans because some extra elements count as well.
A victory like this against Novak almost comes double because of my age. I'm still on the Tour because I believe I can beat the best, and I have to prove to myself that I can do that, although I haven't beaten Novak for a couple of years despite coming close in Bercy and Wimbledon.
It was a slim margin, and I still lost those matches; that's why victory like this does me well," Roger Federer said.