Roger Federer knows he can’t have any more slip ups in his group at the ATP Finals if he is to advance to the semi-finals. He plays Matteo Berettini in his second match, seeking to earn a needed victory ahead of the final group match with Novak Djokovic on Thursday.
Federer’s poor record against Dominic Thiem continued on Sunday as he fell to the Austrian in straight sets 7-5 7-5. He had fought back after a slow start but shoddy service games at 5-5 in both sets ensured his defeat in the opener. It was a failure to take his chances that left him in trouble while Thiem broke in all three games he had break point in. “I thought he played well. The start definitely didn’t help. That put me on the back foot,” Federer said. “But I recovered well and I thought the match was pretty even for a long period of time. I felt that I had my chances. Didn’t feel like I was outplayed or anything. Just maybe those first-match hiccups, not hitting your spots on the serve when you need to, getting into trouble early in the service games, which maybe doesn’t happen later on in the tournament.”
The surprise qualifier Berrettini was outclassed by Novak Djokovic in a punishing first round match with the Serbian. He was on court for just under an hour in the 6-2 6-1 loss and was broken in his last five service games of the match. While he will be disappointed with the manner of the defeat, it will definitely be a learning experience for the Italian. “I think I always learned something about all the experiences that I did off court and on court. I was asking my team what we can do better when I was winning and [when] I was losing. I’m the kind of guy pushing myself more and more. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better person, better player,” Berrettini said. “When I cracked the Top 20, I could have said this was good for me. I was happy, I was proud, but not enough. I kept pushing, I kept improving, I kept putting myself in more difficult situations and I’m learning a lot.”
One of Berrettini’s first big experiences of the big stage was when he took to the court with Federer at Wimbledon this year, with a lot of hype behind him. It wasn’t a fun outing for him as he won just five games in a very disappointing performance. Federer is definitely there for the taking going on his first performance but Berrettini will have to ensure his serve is firing. He was broken early at Wimbledon and never allowed time to recover, seeing to his swift exit from Centre Court. Federer is still not underestimating his opponent however. “With his serve, with what he can do, obviously any opponent is dangerous here,” Federer said. “I’ve got to recover. I’ve got to make sure I play better than today and hopefully I can win that match.”
Prediction – Roger Federer in straight sets