In a match reminiscent of his famous fourth-round victory at the Australian Open, world #6 Stefanos Tsitsipas upset six-time former-champion Roger Federer in straight-sets, 6-3 6-4, at the ATP Finals. The match, which lasted just one hour and 36 minutes, sees him advance to the biggest final of his career. The Swiss proved unable to reproduce the sort of tennis that saw him dismantle world #2 Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to book his place in the semifinals. Despite forcing 12 break points against Tsitsipas’ serve, Federer was able to convert just one.
“I look across the net, and I thought that he played really well. He took the ball early. I know he does that. I thought I returned actually pretty good on the first serve. Second serve of breakpoints. I guess there were better moments. But for the most part I wasn’t quite getting into the rallies the way I wanted to,” Federer said.
Federer, who went an early break down in the opener, had six chances to get back on level terms in the first set. But he threw most of them away with unforced errors. In the second set, it was a similar story. Federer again went down an early break and although he finally took a break point chance to get back on serve, he was then broken back immediately. He still had more chances to get back into the match, including two break points when Tsitsipas was serving for the match. But he could not take them either.
“No doubt I had my chances… Sure, he didn’t double fault. He didn’t do anything silly, and he’s tough as nails. I’m frustrated I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again.”
“I tried everything I could. I tried to chip it eventually, tried to stay back and hit some. Also I tried to come forward. And for the most part, I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive. But of course, with his aggression- it’s not always easy. Because he always takes the ball very early himself too.”
The defeat, which brings Federer’s 2019 campaign to an end, will no doubt be a tough loss to swallow for the Swiss. Federer, 38, did win four titles this year, including the Miami Open, and was one point away from capturing a record-extending 21st Grand-Slam title at the All England Club. But it was ultimately a year in which his great rivals gained ground on him, with Rafael Nadal now just one behind Federer’s Grand Slam tally. That will no doubt be a cause for concern.
When asked about what he needs to do for next season to continue to compete at the highest level, the Swiss said: “I think, you know, I’ve got to keep on playing at the level like I have this year, and then I will create some chances… Got to take care of my body, listen to the signs, work well with the team, get the balance right with everything that’s happening in my life.”
Tsitsipas, however, will have his mind on other things after one of the biggest wins of his career. The Greek has never won a title above 250-level, despite playing in two Masters 1000 finals. He will go on to face either defending champion Alexander Zverev or first-time semifinalist Dominic Thiem in tomorrow’s final where he will seek to become the first man since Grigor Dimitrov to win the ATP Finals on debut.
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