Roger Federer outclasses Novak Djokovic to reach ATP Finals semis

Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during his group stage match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals in London. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2019

Roger Federer outclasses Novak Djokovic to reach ATP Finals semis

  • Defeat spells the end of Djokovic’s bid to overtake Rafael Nadal as No. 1
  • Federer, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, reached his 16th semifinal

LONDOM: Roger Federer produced a serving masterclass as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
The Swiss, playing near-flawless tennis, broke once in the first set and twice in the second to beat his rival for the first time since 2015.
Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, the six-time champion dropped just seven points on his serve in the first set.
Defeat spells the end of Djokovic’s bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.
The third-seeded Federer, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, reached his 16th semifinal.
Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.
“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.
“I played incredible and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical. You guys made it super special, I can’t thank you enough.”
Speaking about what was different from Wimbledon, he said: “I won match point I guess. It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”
Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Dominic Thiem, who beat both Federer and Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.
Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.
As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.
Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.
He broke Djokovic again in the fifth game to take an iron grip on the match and repeated the trick to take the second set 6-3.
It was the 49th time Federer and Djokovic had met.
Djokovic, who now holds a 26-23 advantage, had 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.
In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat 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 arrived in London at a career-high number eight in the ATP rankings after starting the season outside of the top 50.
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.


Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

Updated 24 January 2020

Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight, making it easy for Pakistan to chase the target
  • The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in T20

LAHORE: Recalled Shoaib Malik smashed a solid half-century to anchor Pakistan’s five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 international in Lahore on Friday.
Malik’s 45-ball 58 not out for his eighth Twenty20 fifty as Pakistan overhauled a modest 142-run target in 19.3 over to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Bangladesh had managed 141-5 in their 20 overs with openers Mohammad Naim scoring 41-ball 43 and Tamim Iqbal hit 34-ball 39 as Pakistan’s three-man pace attack kept them in check on a flat Gadaffi stadium pitch.
The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in the shortest format. If they lose any of the remaining matches — on Saturday and Monday, also in Lahore, Australia will replace them at the top.
Lahore’s foggy weather prompted Pakistan Cricket Board to start the match at 2pm (0900 GMT) but it failed to attract more than 10,000 people in a capacity of 24,000 stadium.
Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight as Pakistan won their first match after losing six of their last seven T20 matches with one washed out.
Malik, playing his first match since February last year, was in sublime form as he hit five boundaries and added 46 for the third wicket with debutant Ahsan Ali who made 32-ball 36 with four boundaries.
Malik, fourth leading run-getter in Twenty20 internationals with 2321 in a record 112 matches, credited bowlers for the win.
“Congratulations to the whole Pakistan for this win and for hosting another match,” said Malik. “It wasn’t an easy pitch and our bowlers restricted them to a gettable total.
“It’s tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match.
“I am happy to help achieve this win in a chase.”
But Pakistan’s chase was initially jolted when they lost world number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam on only the second ball into their innings, caught behind off an inside edge off fast bowler Shafiul Islam.
Shafiul was the best Bangladeshi bowler with 2-27.
Another recalled batsman Mohammad Hafeez hit three crisp boundaries and was looking in good touch before he miscued a flick and was caught off Mustafizur Rahman for 17.
Malik and Ahsan took Pakistan to 81 and before Iftikhar Ahmed (16) added a further 36 for the fourth wicket but even the fall of Iftikhar and Imad Wasim (six) did not derail Pakistan.
Earlier, Bangladesh, who won the toss and opted to bat, were off to a good start as Iqbal and Naim put on 70 for the opening wicket.
Naim, fresh from his top score of 81 against India in November last year, cracked three boundaries and a six while Iqbal had four boundaries and a six but Pakistan pulled the scoring rate between 12-15 overs which yielded just 21 runs.
Iqbal was run out in the 11th over while Naim holed out off spinner Shadab Khan in the 15th.
Skipper Mahmudullah hit two boundaries in his 14-ball 19 not out.
Pakistan handed Twenty20 debuts to opener Ahsan and pacer Haris Rauf.