Djokovic, Federer to clash for semis berth post Berrettini win - GulfToday

Djokovic, Federer to clash for semis berth post Berrettini win

Djokovic, Federer to clash for semis berth post Berrettini win

Stefanos Tsitsipas returns against Alexander Zverev during their round-robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Italian Matteo Berrettini made ATP Finals history on Thursday with a consolation win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem in London. In the day’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3. In doing so, the 23-year-old became the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.

Berrettini finished with a 1-2 record this week. Thiem had already qualified for the semi-finals after his win on Tuesday against Djokovic.

Berrettini’s surprise win thus paves the way for a mouthwatering showdown between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for a place in the last four of the season-ending tournament.

The heavyweights, who have won the ATP Finals 11 times between them, will meet for the 49th time in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final.

Djokovic, who holds a 26-22 advantage, has won their past five meetings, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July, during which he saved two championship points.

The Serbian is bidding to equal Federer’s record of six ATP Finals titles and is also challenging Rafael Nadal for the year-end number one ranking.

The second seed, 32, will leapfrog Nadal to finish in the top spot if he wins the title at the O2 Arena and Nadal does not reach the final.

The Serbian, who can claim a record-equalling sixth year-end number one finish, is hungry to finish the year on top.

“One of the two biggest achievements that you can have as a professional competitive tennis player is winning a Grand Slam and being number one in the world at the end of the season,” he said before the tournament started.

Federer was asked earlier this week whether the Wimbledon defeat had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the 38-year-old.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

He added: “Actually, it’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is, but at the end of the day, I’m here for the World Tour Finals and not because of the Wimbledon finals.”

Berrettini meanwhile arrived in London at a career-high number eight in the ATP rankings after starting the season outside of the top 50.

“I always had great fights against (Thiem),” said the Italian.

“I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set.

“I played a great tie-break, so I’m very happy with my performance.”

Fifth-seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.

Tsitsipas coasted past defending champion Alexander Zverev in straight sets to advance to the last four of the ATP Finals on Wednesday after Rafael Nadal came back from the dead to keep his title hopes alive.

The Greek tyro, 21, broke his big-serving German opponent three times in the Group Andre Agassi match to seal a 6-3, 6-2 win at London’s O2 Arena.

The straightforward victory, which took Tsitsipas’s head-to-head record against Zverev to 4-1, was in sharp contrast to the earlier match, in which Nadal produced an astonishing comeback to beat Daniil Medvedev.

Tsitsipas grabbed the contest by the scruff of the neck at end of the first set, breaking Zverev in the eighth game and served out for the set.

The Greek then broke in the opening game and the fifth game of the second set as Zverev struggled to produce the same level of tennis that propelled him to victory against Nadal on Monday.

“I was really surprised by my performance today,” said the sixth seed, who beat Medvedev earlier in the week and who is yet to drop a set in London on his tournament debut.

“I did everything right and once again it was not just me out there but a whole bunch of people, excited people that came to support me. It was a crew situation.”

Agence France-Presse