Nitto ATP Finals 2019: Roger Federer thumps Novak Djokovic in style to reach semis
Towards the tail end of the second set, the Serb started looking disinterested and unfocused. While some of that could be blamed on the partisan crowd rooting for Federer, a lion's share of the credit must be given to the Swiss Maestro for producing some sublime tennis.
Since his Wimbledon triumph earlier this year, Djokovic has been in and out of form. He lost early at the US Open because of a shoulder injury, but bounced back by winning titles in Tokyo and Paris. He looked well-prepared as he arrived in London for the year-end championships.
However, a determined Federer dismantled the defense of the Serb in an hour and 13 minutes to reach the semi-finals for a record 16th time out of his 17 appearances at the event.
Djokovic looked a bit clueless against Federer last night, and misjudged the ball on a few occasions. He made a few untimely forehand errors, and also three double faults. It is possible that Djokovic was expecting a serve and volley strategy from Federer, and was taken by surprise when the Swiss chose to be aggressive from the baseline instead.
In a match where the result depended on the shorter rallies, Federer managed to win 48 points that were under five shots in comparison with Djokovic's 25. Had Djokovic been a little more resilient from the baseline he could have pushed Federer into his vulnerable zone, as the Serb managed to win six out of the seven points with nine or more shots.
The one statistic that Federer can be really proud of is the percentage of points won on the first serve. Federer had an 81% success rate on the first serve while Djokovic won a mere 57% on his first serve. Even the second serve was unusually productive for Federer as he clinched 69% of those points while Djokovic only managed to win 44%.
Federer's serving was top-notch throughout; he hit 12 aces, while Djokovic struggled to maintain the same level on his own serve with just two aces overall. A surprising and positive stat for Federer was the number of unforced errors - just five in the entire match. For someone who likes to play aggressive tennis and dictate points from his side of the court, this was an amazing number to achieve.
The winners' count was also in Federer's favor, as he hit 23 to Djokovic's 14.
Federer played with better focus than he did in his previous two matches and that resulted in some amazing numbers to the credit of the Swiss. The subdued performance from Djokovic also had a part to play in the result though; at times he hit winners for fun, but at others he made terrible misses off both the forehand and the backhand wing.
Normally, a pro-Federer crowd would pump up Djokovic and prompt him to bring out his best. But that was not the case yesterday, as it's not always easy to block the crowd completely and focus solely on your game. He did that in Wimbledon but failed to do it on Thursday.
It can also get overwhelming and exhausting at times to be the player who defeats the favorite every time. While no one can be blamed for the situation on the court yesterday, it would have perhaps been a better contest had the crowd supported both the players and maintained a neutral stance.
There was a moment in the match where Djokovic had to stop in his service motion as the crowd kept cheering for Federer. In another instance, the Serb just started his service motion without even waiting for the crowd to calm down as they usually do once the players are ready to serve.
That was probably the moment where Djokovic felt like walking off the court immediately, as he crumbled in the next few games. He made numerous errors towards the end of the second set, before getting broken for a third time to hand the match to Federer.
That said, it was an incredible performance from Federer. Djokovic did little wrong in the first half apart from a few mishits, and he was still completely dominated by the Swiss.
Federer will now face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal in the semifinal while the Austrian Dominic Thiem could face one of Tsitsipas/Nadal/Zverev, depending on the winner of today's match between Tsitsipas and Nadal.
Published 15 Nov 2019, 14:58 IST