Federer acknowledges the crowd after his win.

Federer Edges out Zverev to Reach ATP Finals Last Four

Roger Federer became the first man into the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals after a 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 win over Alexander Zverev at the O2 Arena in London.

The day after Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal on account of a knee injury, event organisers were desperate for their big draw card to come up with the goods. He did, but was pushed extremely hard for two sets by rising German star Zverev.

Zverev has won two Masters titles this year, the second of which came via a victory over Federer in Montreal – and he was not afraid to share the big stage with the Swiss master.

The youngster hits the ball incredibly hard and his power had the normally unflappable Federer ruffled on a few occasions. He had chances too. The 20-year-old race into a 4-0 lead in the first set tiebreak and missed a forehand at set point, which allowed Federer to claw back and edge ahead.

Players with less belief in their abilities would have folded after coughing up such a big opening, but Zverev kept his focus and a break of serve towards the end of the second set helped him to level the match.

Federer has 19 grand slams to his name and you need a huge number of qualities to get to that level. Talent, belief, speed of thought and nerves of steel are but a few of those and they were all on show in the final set as the 36-year-old worked his younger opponent around the court with a mixture of spins and speed changes.

The forehand is the biggest weakness in Zverev’s game and under persistent pressure from Federer, it broke down as the Swiss powered into the last four.

“I’m extremely happy… It’s been a tough group so to be there in two matches is great,” Federer said, per the ATP’s official website. “But today was difficult.

“Still early days in the tournament. It was nice to be able to show maybe that quality of mine, that I can dig out these matches, these points time and time again, stay mentally tough. In the third I started to play better. It was a tough match from the beginning till the end.”

All is not lost for Zverev, as he will meet Jack Sock on Thursday in a shootout for the second qualification spot from the Boris Becker Group.

After such a breakout year in 2017, Zverev will go into that meeting with Sock as the favourite and it would not be the biggest shock were the German and Federer to reprise this compelling contest in Sunday’s final.