Roger Federer got back on track at the ATP Finals, beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Tuesday for his first victory of the round-robin stage.
Federer lost his opening match to Dominic Thiem on Sunday but the six-time champion looked sharper against Berrettini, never dropping his serve and hitting 24 winners.
Federer has failed to reach the semifinals only once in his previous 16 appearances, in 2008, but probably has to beat Novak Djokovic in his final group match on Thursday to advance.
That will be the first meeting between Federer and Djokovic since their epic Wimbledon final in July, when the Swiss star missed two match points before losing 13-12 (3) in the fifth set.
Another loss would likely eliminate Federer from this tournament, depending on other results, but the Swiss star said he’s excited about the chance to avenge that Wimbledon defeat.
“Actually, it’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back,” Federer said. “Maybe it took me a few days, couple weeks at most, to get over the Wimbledon loss. . We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”
Djokovic, who beat Berrettini on Sunday, faced Thiem in the evening match.
Against Berrettini, Federer earned the only break point of the first set at 6-5, but the Italian saved it with a forehand volley. In the tiebreaker, the Italian double-faulted to hand Federer a 5-2 lead and netted a forehand return on set point.
Federer broke Berrettini to open the second set, but had to overcome a slight wobble at 4-3. Federer trailed 15-40 in that game and had to save three break points in total before holding with an ace.
He broke again to seal the win when Berrettini netted a forehand.
Berrettini’s slim hopes of advancing would be over if Thiem wins at least a set against Djokovic later.
The Italian is making his first appearance at the season-ending event for the world’s top eight players. But mistakes have hurt him in both matches, as he finished with 27 unforced errors against Federer — only one fewer than against Djokovic.
“I’m playing against the best guys on the planet and maybe the best guys ever. So I’m proud of what I’m doing,” Berrettini said. “But for sure I’m learning. And these kind of losses, they will help me in the future to get better.”