LONDON: Roger Federer got back on track at the ATP Finals with a 7-6(2) 6-3 defeat of Italian Matteo Berrettini yesterday.
Defeat by Dominic Thiem in his opening round-robin match on Sunday has left the six-time champion facing an early exit, but he responded well.
Berrettini was also coming off a heavy defeat by Novak Djokovic in his first appearance at the event, and he showed why he has made such an impact this year as he pushed Federer hard in the opening set.
He saved a set point at 5-6 but Federer won 10 of 11 points as he cruised through the tiebreak and broke to love at the start of the second.
Berrettini, the first Italian to qualify for the tournament since 1978, had three break points in the eighth game but Federer served his way out of trouble and the 38-year-old Swiss then broke to claim victory.
Incredibly Federer is now 17-0 in second round-robin matches at the tournament but he is likely to need a victory over Djokovic on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.
Only once in his previous 16 appearances at the year-ender has Federer failed to survive the group stage, in 2008.
Djokovic, who is bidding to equal Federer’s record of six titles and claim back the world number one ranking from Rafael Nadal, faces Thiem later at the O2 Arena.
Late on Monday, Nadal made a disappointing start at the ATP Finals as he suffered a first career loss to Germany’s reigning champion Alexander Zverev, going down 6-2 6-4.
The Spaniard, seeking a first title at the event and hoping to secure the year-end number one ranking for a fifth time, showed no sign of the abdominal injury sustained in Paris this month, but was comprehensively outplayed.
Zverev broke serve in the fifth game and again two games later when Nadal blazed a wild forehand wide.
The 33-year-old dropped his serve again at the start of the second set and with Zverev rock solid on his own delivery he never allowed the Spaniard a glimpse of an opportunity. The statistics told the story of the match with Zverev striking 26 winners to Nadal’s 13 and winning 30 of 34 points behind his first serve.