ATP Finals: Looking back at the 5 previous clashes between Djokovic and Federer at the season-ending tournament

Roger Federer (left) and Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer (left) and Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are two of the most decorated winners at the ATP Finals. While Federer has won the season-ending tournament on a record six occasions, Djokovic is one of three players (also Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras) to have triumphed at the ATP Finals five times.

At the 50th edition of the ATP Finals this year in London, Federer is making his record-extending 17th appearance. The Swiss maestro beat tournament debutant Matteo Berrettini in straight sets to record at least one win in each of his appearances at the tournament, and in the process remain in contention for a semifinal place.

After Djokovic kicked off his 12th ATP Finals appearance with a straight-set defeat of Berrettini, the recently deposed No. 1 fell to Dominic Thiem in a deciding set tiebreak. In the process Thiem, who beat Federer in his first round-robin match. qualified as the group-winner with a match to spare. That result also eliminated Berrettini from the fray and left Federer and Djokovic to contest a winner-takes-all loser-goes-home 'virtual' quarterfinal scrap.

In 48 previous meetings Djokovic leads Federer 26-22, including wins in the pair's last five meetings stretching back to the final of the 2015 ATP Finals. That was the last time Federer met his 2019 Wimbledon final conqueror at the season-ending tournament.

The match against Federer would be Djokovic's 50th at the ATP Finals (36-13). Only the man he'll face on Thursday has played more matches (74) than the Serb at the season-ending tournament.

Along with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray (five apiece), Djokovic is the only player to have played Federer at least five times at the ATP Finals. The 16-time Grand Slam champion and Juan Martin del Potro are the only players to have beaten Federer multiple times at the season-ending tournament.

On that note, let us re-live Federer and Djokovic's previous clashes at the ATP Finals.

#1 2010 Semifinals: Federer beat Djokovic 6-1 6-4

ATP World Tour Finals 2010 - Day Seven
ATP World Tour Finals 2010 - Day Seven

In the pair's first meeting at the season-ending tournament, four-time champion Federer faced Djokovic for the third time (Shanghai semis, Basel final) after squandering a pair of match points in the US Open semifinals.

In his fifth meeting of the season against Djokovic, Federer burst out of the blocks, wrapping up the opening set with two breaks of serve. Djokovic briefly reversed the momentum by effecting a break of the Federer serve early in the second set, but normal service resumed soon thereafter as Federer got back on serve in the fifth game.

Another break of serve in the ninth game sealed a 6-1 6-4 win and a place in his sixth final at the ATP Finals.

Federer would go on to beat Rafael Nadal in the title match to clinch a record-equalling 5th title at the season-ending tournament.

#2 2012 Final: Djokovic beat Federer 7-6(6) 7-5

Djokovic celebrates his 2nd title at the ATP Finals in 2012, following a win over Federer in the final
Djokovic celebrates his 2nd title at the ATP Finals in 2012, following a win over Federer in the final

In their second meeting at the ATP Finals, and the first in two years, two-time defending champion Roger Federer, looking for a record-extending 7th title at the tournament, led by a break in the first set before dropping the opener in a tiebreak.

Federer again led by a break in the second set and had two opportunities to force a third set when he led 5-4 40-15 on serve, only for Novak Djokovic to scream back into contention. The Serb then went on to win the final two games of the match as Federer was left wondering what might have been.

On another day, Federer might have been a straight-sets victor. But Djokovic had other ideas as the Serb lifted his second title at the tournament.

#3 2013 RR: Djokovic beat Federer 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

In a rematch of their 2012 final, Federer and Djokovic met for the first time in the round-robin stage of the ATP Finals. It was the pair's second meeting of the season, following Djokovic's straight-sets win in the Paris Masters semifinals a few days earlier.

Federer squandered a break point in the ninth game of the first set and was left to rue the missed opportunity as Djokovic bagged the opener by breaking Federer in the next game. Following a bevy of breaks, the second set proceeded to a tiebreaker - which Federer dominated to force a decider.

Djokovic re-asserted his supremacy in the match by breaking Federer to love in the opening game of the third set. He never looked back from there, riding on another service break to close out a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 win.

#4 2015 RR: Federer beat Djokovic 7-5 6-2

Federer and Djokovic after their 2015 round-robin match
Federer and Djokovic after their 2015 round-robin match

Djokovic and Federer were perched in the same group at the 2015 ATP Finals, for the second time in their career. Three-time defending champion Djokovic was coming off a record 15-match win streak at the tournament when he took on Federer in the second round-robin match.

In their seventh meeting of the season, Federer capitalized on a loose Djokovic service game late in the first set to take the opener 7-5. He subsequently rode his momentum to a 7-5 6-2 win, for his second win of the season over the World No. 1.

With the win, Federer avoided falling behind in their rivalry for the very first time, by taking a 22-21 lead in their head-to-head. The Swiss maestro would go on to reach another final at the ATP Finals, but he was made to wait for a record-extending 7th title at the tournament.

#5 2015 Final: Djokovic beat Federer 6-3 6-4

Djokovic capped off a dominant season with his 5th ATP Finals title
Djokovic capped off a dominant season with his 5th ATP Finals title

After squaring off in the group stage earlier in the tournament, Federer and Djokovic met in the title match of the 2015 ATP Finals. It was the pair's 7th final of the season, with Djokovic leading 4-2 following wins at Indian Wells, Rome, Wimbledon and the US Open.

An erratic Federer struggled with the consistency of Djokovic as the six-time champion dropped serve twice in the first set to concede the opener. Federer improved in the second set, but a relentless Djokovic remained unerring from the baseline to complete a 6-3 6-4 win.

With the victory, Djokovic became the first player to win four successive titles at the tournament, and drew level with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras as five-time winners at the ATP Finals. It was a career-best season which saw the Serb reach a record eight Masters 1000 finals, win a record six Masters 1000 titles, reach all four Grand Slam finals, and win 11 titles.

During the course of his win in the final, Djokovic won a staggering 84% of points behind his second serve (62% points won on first serve).

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Edited by Musab Abid
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