Djokovic, Federer set for ATP Finals showdown after Berrettini win

Switzerland's Roger Federer and Serbia's Novak Djokovic before their group stage match. ( REUTERS/Toby Melville)
Updated 14 November 2019

Djokovic, Federer set for ATP Finals showdown after Berrettini win

LONDON: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer prepared to face off for a place in the last four of the ATP Finals on Thursday after Matteo Berrettini made history with a consolation win in London.
The heavyweights, who have won the season-ending tournament 11 times between them, will meet for the 49th time in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, who holds a 26-22 advantage, has won their past five meetings, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July, during which he saved two championship points.
The Serbian is bidding to equal Federer’s record of six ATP Finals titles and is also challenging Rafael Nadal for the year-end number one ranking.
The second seed, 32, will leapfrog Nadal to finish in the top spot if he wins the title at the O2 Arena and Nadal does not reach the final.
The Serbian, who can claim a record-equalling sixth year-end number one finish, is hungry to finish the year on top.
“One of the two biggest achievements that you can have as a professional competitive tennis player is winning a Grand Slam and being number one in the world at the end of the season,” he said before the tournament started.
Federer was asked earlier this week whether the Wimbledon defeat had left emotional or mental scars.
“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the 38-year-old. “A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”
He added: “Actually, it’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is, but at the end of the day, I’m here for the World Tour Finals and not because of the Wimbledon finals.”
In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Berrettini beat Austria’s Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
In doing so, the 23-year-old became the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.
Berrettini finished with a 1-2 record this week. Thiem had already qualified for the semifinals after his win on Tuesday against Djokovic.
Berrettini arrived in London at a career-high number eight in the ATP rankings after starting the season outside of the top 50.
“I always had great fights against (Thiem),” said the Italian. “I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set.
“I played a great tie-break, so I’m very happy with my performance.”
Fifth-seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semifinals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.


Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

Updated 18 January 2020

Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

LONDON: Mohamed Salah says Liverpool’s focus is solely on ending a 30-year wait to win the Premier League title, rather than doing so by going the whole season unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have dropped just 2 points in 21 games to set a new record for Europe’s top five leagues of 61 points from a possible 63 to start the campaign.

That has propelled the European champions into a 14-point lead over title holders Manchester City with a game in hand, but Salah insists the Reds are still taking their title challenge one game at a time ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.

“We don’t think about being unbeaten until the end of the season. If we do that, it would be great, but at the end of the day we just want to win the Premier League. That’s the most important thing,” Salah told Premier League Productions.

“Unbeaten or not, it’s not necessary — we want to win the Premier League.”

Liverpool could move a massive 30 points clear of United with victory on Sunday, but the Red Devils are the only side to take points off them this season after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Salah missed that match through injury and is keen to make up for lost time in the clash between English football’s two most successful sides.

“We need to win, we need to carry on in our way — the way we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season and since last year,” added the Egyptian.

“Of course we know it’s big for the fans, for the city and for us. But at the end of the day, we play the game to win.”