Just as he did at the Australian Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas downed Roger Federeron the big stage, as he defeated the six-time champion in straight sets in the Nitto ATP Finals semi-final. Federer put the young Greek under pressure but could not convert his break point chance, and paid for that immediately as Tsitsipas broke in the next game, going on to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Federer had more chances to break, but could not find a way through, first with three and then tow more, as well as saving six set points, before finally Tsitsipas converted with lucky number seven for the lead.
The second set started with a break before the first changeover for Tsitsipas, but this time Federer finally converted his 10th chance to dig into the Greek’s serve, breaking straight back to the delight of the crowd. However, even that proved short-lived as Tsitsipas made it three breaks in a row and more importantly got the consolidating hold for a 4-2 lead.
It was the story of the match that as Tsitsipas came out to serve for the match, Federer entertained two more break point chances, failing to make them count with Tsitsipas, who is the youngest player in this year’s tournament, beating the oldest player in the tournament in comparative ease.
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It was evident from the start that Tsitsipas’ composure saw him weather the storm of break point chances unconverted by the Swiss, multiple set points come and go, and nothing Federer tried seemed to find a weakness today.
Federer said, after the match: “I’m frustrated I couldn’t play better, and when I did and fought my way back, I threw it away again. Again, like I said, it was also parts of him. He did come up with the goods when he had to, and he was better than me today.
“It’s the year-end. It’s over now and I can’t make it better. I tried everything I could, to be honest, you know. I tried to chip it eventually, tried to stay back and hit some. 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.
“I knew he was going to be incredibly athletic. He was just a little bit better today at all those little things.”
There was no shortage of chances for Federer, and the flip side of the coin of his failure to take those chances is the fact that Tsitsipas was like a wall.
He told reporters in his post-match press-conference: “I’m really glad I played well, stayed calm. It’s a great moment not just for me, for everyone else, my country, my team. I’m proud of myself, how hard I fought today, how concentrated I stayed in the breakpoints. Didn’t crack under pressure. I was very composed and very mature in my decisions.
“For me, it’s a great new start, great new beginning to be here, playing in the Finals. I would compare it almost as a Grand Slam, for sure but you have less matches.
“It’s really, like, very difficult to be in that position I am in right now, and it counts a lot. It does count a lot (smiling). It has a lot of history. This tournament has a lot of history, and I’m proud to be in the Finals.”
The singles final of the Nitto ATP Finals will take place at 6pm on Sunday.
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