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Djokovic fends off Federer fightback

Ismail Vedat at the O2
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Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in Paris on the weekend © Getty Images
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For the second time in four days Novak Djokovic edged out Roger Federer as he began the defence of his ATP World Tour Finals title with a thrilling victory.

Djokovic got the better of Federer to win last year's title at the O2, and 12 months on he won 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 to once again deny Federer.

The pair met for the first time in 2013 in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters on Saturday, with Djokovic fighting from a set down to edge out the record 17-time grand slam champion.

The Verdict

  • With hardly any time to rest after his win in Paris, Novak Djokovic was machine-like in the way he took down Roger Federer tonight.
  • The majority of the crowd at the O2 were rooting for Federer, but Djokovic has shown in the past that something like that does not faze him. He may have disappeared in the second set tiebreak, but bouncing back is what motivates the Serb, as evidenced by this incredible run he is currently on.
  • Djokovic now takes on Juan Martin del Potro, with a win for either player sending them through to the semi-finals, while Federer finds himself in a precarious position of needing to beat Richard Gasquet to avoid falling in the round-robin phase of a competition he had dominated for so long.
Back at the World Tour Finals as the defending champion, Djokovic extended his recent winning-streak to 18 matches to begin the so-called 'Group of Death' with a victory by fending off the comeback of the record six-time winner.

Rafael Nadal at the US Open was the last man to beat Djokovic, and with his unbeaten run continuing into London, the man who lifted titles in Shanghai, Beijing and Paris during that streak is off to the start he craved as the prospect of two great champions battling it out on court lived up to its pre-match billing.

It appeared Federer would make the opening breakthrough of the match when Djokovic served two double faults in the ninth game. However, Federer failed to convert two break points - although many inside the O2 Arena thought he made a forehand winner on the second one only to see the finger of the chair umpire raised to signal the shot was marginally out.

Djokovic grew in confidence after emerging unscathed from that game, and when his opportunity arrived to break, he did so by clinching the opening set after a forehand from Federer landed wide.

Federer was immediately under pressure in the second set as he fended off break points, and like Djokovic did to him at the backend of the opening set Federer used the confidence of the hold to break himself, coming from 40-0 down to take a 3-2 lead.

However, a lucky net cord from Djokovic played on Federer's mind, and with it the Swiss handed the break back through a double fault in the following game as Djokovic levelled at three-all.

After the first four games went on serve, the next three were breaks as Federer hit straight back and opened up a 5-3 advantage. Djokovic closed the gap to one, and then saved a set point en route to reclaiming the break to once again square the tie, this time at 5-5.

Two games later the pair went into a tiebreak, and Federer claimed the mini-break to lead 3-2, with his shot just making the line after Djokovic challenged the decision through Hawkeye. Federer then took four points on the spin as Djokovic struggled to regroup after the Hawkeye verdict.

As he has conveyed throughout his career, when questions are asked of Djokovic he comes up with the right answers as the disappointment of fading in the tiebreak reignited his fire in the deciding set, where he quickly put an end to Federer's brave resistance by dropping just two games to storm to the win.

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