LONDON – Despite losing to Switzerland’s Roger Federer on Thursday night in London, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is through to the semi-finals of the ATP Finals.
Anderson lost his final group match 6-4 6-3 to Federer, but by the time they took to the court, they were playing for who would top the group and who would finish second following Dominic Thiem’s surprisingly easy 6-1 6-4 win over Kei Nishikori.
The achievement makes Anderson the first African in the semis of this event, which dates back to 1970 under several different names.
Federer’s win means he tops the group, leaving Anderson likely to face in-form World No 1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday in what will be a repeat of the Wimbledon final.
The Federer-Anderson match was decided on a flurry of breaks and break opportunities late in the first set.
At 3-2, Anderson had Federer at 0-30 on the Swiss serve, but Federer bounced back.
As if to punish Anderson for failing to seize his chance, Federer broke to lead 4-3, only to be broken straight back.
Anderson was then broken again for Federer to lead 5-4, but minutes later, he had Federer on the ropes at 0-40.
But Federer, who has never looked completely on top of his game this week, suddenly found five well-played points to take the set.
The SA player held his own in the second set for six games, but when Federer broke him, the air went out of Anderson’s tyre, and a second break saw Federer home.
“I feel like some of the things he did today, I didn’t really adjust to very well,” said Anderson after the match.
“I thought he used the change of pace very well. I felt pretty good out on the court, but I didn’t execute or play at a high enough level to win.”
Djokovic is guaranteed his place in the semi-finals, but he needs to win at least a set against Marin Cilic on Friday to be sure of finishing top of the group.
The likeliest semi-final line-up is Djokovic v Anderson and Federer v Alexander Zverev, but America John Isner may yet upset the German’s chances in the Friday afternoon match.
African News Agency (ANA)