It will be a winner takes all affair on Thursday when Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer face off in the evening session of the ATP Finals. They will be looking to join the currently 2-0 Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals as qualifier from Group Bjorn Borg. It will be the 49th matchup between the two, with the Serbian currently leading the head to head 26-22 having won many of the matches in recent years.
Federer got on the board in the group on Tuesday with a straight sets win against Matteo Berrettini, putting in a strong serving performance to take the match 7-6 6-3. He hit 8 aces and denied the Italian on all three break points faced in a performance he was far more happier with than his opener against Thiem. “I’m very happy with how I played today. Matteo was always going to be difficult with his big serve… I was pretty clean in my own service games and I think that helped today. I hope I can keep it up and maybe even play a bit better in the next match.” he said.
Djokovic lost a wild one to Dominic Thiem, eventually falling in a final set tiebreak to the Austrian 6-7 6-3 7-6. He will have been disappointed to have lost this one but credits his opponent with a stunning performance. “I don’t think I have experienced too many matches like this where my opponent just goes for every single shot,” said Djokovic. “He was unbelievable, and in some stages it was just incredible that he was just literally smacking the ball as hard as he could and [it] was going in.”
The head to head has been trending in Djokovic’s favour for a long time and it seems unlikely to change with this one with the Serb coming into the match the heavy favourite. Federer is not too concerned however and is looking forward to the opportunity to see his fortunes change.“I’m excited [to be] playing against him. I’m excited to see how he’s going to play tonight, as well. It’s definitely going to give me some more information about what to expect. But other than that, I think I need to focus on my game, what I do best. And regardless of what I need to do, I just hope I play well.”
Djokovic saw 51 winners fly past him in the loss to Thiem. It’s unlikely that happens again in this one but if Federer can find some magic, he may be in trouble. He needs to win to ensure he has a chance to still take the World No.1 spot but his chances may improve if the currently 1-1 Nadal loses his final rubber on Sunday.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets