ATP FinalsRoger Federer

Federer Grinds Out Victory Over Nishikori To Top Group Stan Smith

Another peRFect record in the Round Robin stages at the Year End Championship for Federer as he fought off the challenge of Kei Nishikori 7-5 4-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

It was a battle of who could own the baseline in this one and Roger wrestled control of it countless times only to see Nishikori hit back; coming from a break down in all three sets to provide Fed with a real test. Fortunately Roger found that bit extra deep in the third where he held to love for 5-4 and took advantage of a double fault + forehand error from Nishikori to break serve for the 6th time in the match and cement his position at the top of Group Stan Smith.

With the win Federer goes unbeaten in the group stages for the 9th time, and this his is 13th semi final appearance in 14 attempts. Not bad really πŸ˜€

Quick Match Recap

Federer Round Robin Nishikori WTF 2015

Kei won the toss and elected to receive. Roger held to 30 and quickly moved up a break to lead 3-1 thanks to a biting slice which drew the error.

A double fault to kick off game 5 put Roger in trouble and Nishikori created two break back points. Fed saved both but on the third a serve volley error gave Kei the game and it was back on serve.

At 3-3 Nishikori held two more break points and this time converted to take a 4-3 lead. The Japanese Number 1 then came within 2 points of a 5-3 lead but Fed hit his first winner of the match en route to breaking. Roger then won 12 of the next 15 points to take the first set 7-5.

Into set 2 and it looked like Roger had gotten himself in full control of the encounter; moving into a 4-1 lead. Nishikori had other ideas though, raising his level to get back on serve at 4-4 with some crisp early ball striking. In game 9 at 30-30 the Swiss made a shocking error on a fairly easy put away and Nishikori went onto break serve before serving out the set 6-4.

Set three saw Nishikori apply immediate pressure, holding 3 break points in game 3 only to see Roger hold and then break serve himself for a 3-1 lead. Once again Fed moved into a 4-1 lead only to relinquish it hitting a poorly timed double fault at deuce. That allowed Nishikori to break and hold to level at 4-4.

Momentum looked to be back on Kei's side but a Federer special love hold for 5-4 steadied the ship and put the pressure immediately back on Nishikori. This time his resistance ended, hitting a double fault at 40-30 and Federer made his move to setup a match point which he converted with a well played point.

Match Stats

  R. Federer K. Nishikori
Aces 10 2
Double Faults 4 4
1st Serve % 54% 57%
1st Serve Points Won 43/51 (84%) 38/54 (70%)
2nd Serve Points Won 13/43 (30%) 17/41 (41%)
Break Points Saved 7/12 (58%) 0/6 (0%)
Service Games Played 16 16
1st Return Points Won 16/54 (30%) 8/51 (16%)
2nd Return Points Won 24/41 (59%) 30/43 (70%)
Break Points Won 6/6 (100%) 5/12 (42%)
Return Games Played 16 16
Winners 33 27
Unforced Errors 35 31
Net Points Won 15/26 10/19
Total Service Points Won 56/94 (60%) 55/95 (58%)
Total Return Points Won 40/95 (42%) 38/94 (40%)
Total Points Won 96/189 (51%) 93/189 (49%)
SABR 1/1 (100%) 0


Check the volley on the first point of the game at 4-4 in the third. Big point to win.

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Round Robin Match 3 London 2015

Easily the toughest match of the tournament for Federer and we got to see some of the top drawer tennis Nishikori is able to produce. I'm not quite sure what to make of the match itself as it was quite a physical battle with both guys producing some high quality stuff and exceptional movement around the court.

In this one Federer came out on top because he managed to push Nishikori back behind the baseline and force the issue to win key points in the third set. The difference was ultimately because Fed's best moments came when he was pressing to get in front on the scoreboard and Nishikori's best came when he was digging deep to recover breaks of serve. In fact Kei only led the match once at 4-3 in the first set, after that he was always playing catchup, so it would have been a surprise if he'd managed to pull off the win and I think on balance Federer deserved it.

I suppose you could say going 3 sets and 2 hours 10 minutes was unnecessary considering Fed had a set and 4-1 lead but Nishikori did a very good job of fighting his way back into it and coming up with some solid returning (especially on the second serve) when he needed it. Some of the points he played were top notch too including a sweet half volley and a running forehand pass up the line where there wasn't much else Federer could do. As for Fed he moved well and mixed up his play again nicely, it's virtually impossible to hit clean winners on this court so Fed has to work the points from the back of the court and get his opponents in places they don't like to be. He did plenty of that today but Nishikori is definitely a tricky customer to keep on the defensive thanks to his speed and how he changes direction with ease.

The only questions after today are who will Fed play in the semi finals and will the physicality of today play a part on Saturday? In terms of the second one, I doubt it, it could even be a good thing that Fed has been tested before the semi finals so I'm looking forward to it. He now has a day off and plays the night match on Saturday at 8pm against Stan or Murray.

Predictions vs. ?

Coming soon…


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. Hmm, I’m making a last-minute dash up the leaderboard, it seems. Does that mean I’m … Rafa?

      Seriously, I was just about to leave the restaurant for the theatre (no point in listening to Djokovic/Berdych, after all) when I thought I’d check, just in case. Just got lucky πŸ™‚

    1. I was not able to watch the match, but it looks like every set was a roller coaster

      I still hope for a seventh title here, now rest and go for it!

  1. I saw this match live this afternoon. There were plenty of tickets on viagogo so I thought I’d treat myself last minute. Id seen the disappointing Stan/Nadal match earlier in the week from high up so I got some court side seats for this one. People have said if you can you should see see it from that level to witness the power grace speed athleticism etc etc and it really was amazing.

    I thought it might be a bit of an exhibition type match but it looked like both were going for it full on. I haven’t seen it on tv yet but some of the rallys were great and although from a Fed fan point of view you want him to win clean it was exciting Nish coming back from a break down to level or lead in each set. Also it was quite a luxury watching him with very little on the line especially after he’d won the first set. Perhaps if there had been more on the line for Fed he would have concentrated better when up.

    The crowd were really into it but were fair to Nishikori and I agree with Jonathan that the competition might hold him in good stead for the weekend. Also greqt that he has a day off tomorrow. And am pleased that the number 2 is still on – though appreciate the argument re meeting Djok earlier than final.

      1. Thanks I do feel so lucky to have gone today. I’ve seen him in an early round at Wimbledon before and also last year thrashing Murray at WTF but it was something really special to see him stretched but still come out on top.

        His ground strokes were superb and it was great to see his movement on the forehand but also I hadnt quite appreciated what magnificent technique he has on the backhand slice.

    1. You lucky thing, Ian – or not so lucky? I’m not sure I would have survived the tension! I did think about going, but had a lot of work to do, and remembered last year’s Roger/Kei match and how glad I was I hadn’t wasted my time and money on it πŸ™‚ I went and saw Stan and Daveed instead – loads of beautiful backhands, at least, and rather cheaper tickets πŸ™‚

      1. Funnily I wasn’t as tense as I normally am watching it on tv sitting on the edge of my seat. I’ve been the last few years with the family and booked tickets way in advance and its a nice evening out but the tennis is really pot luck. I’ve seen quite a few dead rubbers or players I’m not really interested in. I’m starting to think its better to go last minute when you know what you are going to see although that’s obviously more expensive.

        Maybe I’ll try Stuttgart next year, Jon seemed to have a good time in Basel

      2. “I’m starting to think its better to go last minute when you know what you are going to see although that’s obviously more expensive.”

        I’ve always gone pretty last-minute. After all, the first time I booked in advance I got Djokoray, so since then I’ve always made sure I know what I’m letting myself in for. Plus it’s easier to get home from the afternoon sessions, and they don’t usually sell out.

  2. That will be a big match, Stan vs Andy.
    Today was weird the whole match through. Might be a blessing in disguise.

    No more Gillette. The water in London is odd.

  3. Kei plays v fast and whips those angles from top of bounce so Fed had a lot to do today which I am actually plsed about because physically he stayed with him and came thru. The second serve was the issue… Short and no variety… Was punished every time! The stats tell you that.
    Rog says he hasn’t a cold but he looks as though he lacks some sleep… Boys cld be teething, keeping him awake. A full day and 1/2 will do him power of good. Always seems to hv the later SF. Hopefully he can crush either Stan or Andy neither of whom hv shown much consistency…
    Still predicting a Fedal final and Fed making it 7…

    1. I love Nishikori’s game. Lovely to watch. What a beautiful match between him and Roger! Breathtaking rallies! Kei seems to be very much injury-prone, otherwise, he has the game to win GS I think.

      Onto semis and I wanted Murray here. Fed owns him now. OTOH Stan always seems to be charged up against his compatriot. So does Mirka when Roger faces Stan πŸ˜‰ ! Let’s see how she behaves in this “cry baby” rematch… Roger absolutely needs to win in straights to have any chance in the final. Losing one set in the semi may cost him the trophy. Fingers crossed. Go Roger!

      The other semi is also very interesting. First meeting after FO and Novak has a chance to square up the rivalry. Can’t wait to see both matches…

  4. Credit to Nishikori for playing so tough , aggressive tennis. one of those matches that if Federer had lost ,wouldnt have been too disappointed as Nishikori deserved it. I guess his year actualky ended on a positive note.
    And Federer what can you say! His Persistence was unbelievable. He s in the semis and he playing this guy whos after him soon as he misses his first serve, jumping on those groundstrokes, despite playing the most terrible miss that cost him the second set really : Keeps his calm, Serves well when he needs to, believes he can take an OPPONENT OUT BY SHOWING HIS FULL REPERTOIRE (PRIMARILY FROM THE BACK OF THE COURT) and a clutch 6/6 breakpoint conversion is truly magnificient.
    He is 3-0 in his group and I still believe his best is yet to come. I might be a little too early on this, but I hope he plays the same way in GSs next year to give himself an even better chance, because lets face it he will not always have good service days and would need a plan B rather than rushing towards the net all the time especially on these so called hardcourts.
    I dont know what tennis will be like after him, seriously.
    I mean people have these wishes that they envisage of watching Federer win multiple slams before retiring, Beat Djokovic in a tough 5 setter or it goes even crazier : beating Nadal in a RG final maybe! :p
    I think we should probably write a letter to the tennis association asking them to change these hardcourts to what they were before 2007 or all hard ourt tournaments (Ace Ventura if i m not wrong was used in AO) for the 2016 tour and you ll what more Federer is capable of even at this age.
    Geez I heard even the grass courts have been slowed down a years ago!!

    1. Yeah good job of Kei to hang in there knowing Berdych was the one who held his qualifying fate on his shoulders even if he did manage to beat Roger.

  5. Nice new record on the line for our man after this win: in a couple of weeks he will surpass Connors in the list of most weeks in the top 3. Stan can’t surpass Roger in the rankings anymore.

  6. My opinion on the match shifted quite a bit after watching the highlights. I had followed the score progression on flashscore, and that gave the impression of a sloppy waste of opportunities. Well, yeah, maybe so, but not so much. Kei fought back very bravely when he had to and deserves a lot of credit. I liked how he was able to defend against insane FH attacks by pushing the ball back to the base line and resetting the rally. But in the end the best man won and that’s what matters the most. Having said that, I’ll keep being pessimistic about the near future of tennis. I just don’t see anyone in his late teens or 20s showing the smallest of brilliance glimpses. Sad, but true. Maybe Thiem, maybe Fritz. Maybe not.

    1. Agreed Rui. The current crop of Raonic, Nishikori and Dimitrov have disappointed to date. Nishikori if he can avoid injuries looks the best bet of the ‘ youngsters’ . Dimitrov is possibly the most talented of the three and my favourite but is in an alarming freefall at present. Coric is definitely a potential future slam winner. Kyrgios has all the tools but has to get the mental and emotional side sorted first.The jury is out on that to date. Not sure about Them, Vesely or Chung but all will continue to improve. Kokkinakis maybe.Don’t see Goffin winning a slam. My two picks though are Zverev and Rublev, both whom possess prodigious talent. We will just have to see how it pans out in the future.

      1. Agree with you picks on the younger players Paul. Zverev collected Star of the Future award, and, as the youngest player in the top 100, I believe he is definitely one to watch. Although it may not count for much (since it was only Boodles), he is the other player to beat Djokovic (in straight sets).

        Like you, I do think Dimitrov is talented – and when playing well, fun to watch – but he has slumped badly this year. His last few matches show have suggested that if he can get himself together he may yet do something (he is after all only 24), but he has a lot of work to do, particularly on the backhand, and more consistency on serve.

  7. Ever notice how many stories on the ATP site are about Fed. He’s one of eight players and half the stories are about him.

    1. I know right. I was thinking, if that was me, I’d have passed out already. Or I’d just look at him and no word could come out of my mouth. She tried, but definitely not a Rog fan

    2. Thanks Sue. OMG, I would definitely pass out into Fed’s chest and arms.
      Ditto both of you. The lady is from Glasgow…likely a Murray fan.

  8. Its really a weird match – has mixed of high quality shot making with low 1st serves and negative winners/ues stats. Only positive is 100% BP conversion, I think its first time I have seen this from Roger ever. I will give credit to Kei for pushing Roger. I was a bit surprised that Roger won more points in the longer rallies column too. Its just weird at all front but unbreaten RR match, I will take regardless. A bit unhappy that Roger has to play night match on Sat which will give him less recovery time. Hope he can string 2 more Ws over this weekend.

  9. Interesting match and even tho it was a dead rubber he still fought like hell to win. Surprising that since Roger beat Novak on Tuesday a lot of people have backed Novak to win. Let’s not forget how good Novak is and I don’t think Rafa on indoors can really cause an upset. Don’t know who too root for in the match as I didn’t get tickets for the evening session and so no federer. How nothing like last year happens where he played a mammoth semi and because of scheduling he struggled to play. Good luck Roger. Hopefully Murray wins

  10. Can’t keep up with the dopers πŸ˜‰

    Good that I could only watch replay afterwards. It must’ve been a roller-coster live. Some exquisite shots from both Kei and Fed, fun to watch.

  11. Fabulous match I thought, real quality beginning to end (apart from that awful shot to lose second set). Like commentators said, he is human after all. πŸ˜‰

    Feds has played great in all his matches; really pushed to be top of his group. I wonder whether he suspected that Rafa would head the other group? Good move anyway. Rafa clearly finding form and at the very least, he and Djokovic will be pounding each other in SF.

    So Feds’ opponent all depends on last match between Muzza and Stan…

    1. I just saw his fb post.I don’t think he will give Halle a miss for stuttgart but it’s quite a strange decision.Is he thinking of tanking the french open?.

    2. I also think he won’t play Istanbul and monte carlo and will have a long break just like 2012 after Indian Wells ( i dont know if fed will play miami).
      Next year will be just as interesting as this one

  12. Talk about strange matches. Yesterday was far from a clear cut by Novak and today Ferrer lost his first 2 service games and then Nadal lost his 2 following services games. Is there any odd pollutant in London’s fog?…

    1. We don’t have fogs. Don’t know why everyone still keeps thinking we have Victorian-style fogs in London. I read some novel a few years ago which had the protagonist stepping out of a house in Covent Garden (I think, or maybe that was just me superposing somewhere I knew well on the story) and not being able to see her hand in front of her face. Ridiculous. I nearly chucked the book in the bin at that point.

  13. I saw that too, Fed playing Stuttgart. On grass, good for him. It’s the week before Halle. Maybe he likes to stay close to home now if he can. I would guess he would skip Miami and Monte Carlo…sorry Wanda.

    Nadal beat Ferrer. His forehand is working for him. He looks dangerous.

    1. I should consider going to Germany, Stuttgart or Halle, instead of Micky-Carlo, still hoping to see Fed in Wimbledon though.

    2. So, it’s immediately after RG? I guess that’s a tacit admission that his days of getting deep into the draw there are over. Although Murphy’s law would probably have him reaching the SF just to spite him …

      1. Halle was always the week after the French Open up until 2015. So it’s the exact same scenario he’s been in since 2000 – I don’t think his French chances play any part in the decision. It is more to do with prep more Wimbledon.

  14. Saw last few games of Rafa/Ferrer.

    WOW. RAFA looks amazing right now. Forehand pass crraaaayyyyyy-zeee good.

    Shot selection very intelligent.

    Have to admit: It was exciting to watch those two for a bit. Both going for it. But Rafa smokin’ good.

    1. “RAFA looks amazing right now.”

      Definitely not. Up a double break in set 1, gets a third break, serves for it, loses it on a tie break. I think he spent too long on court putting Ferrer away in a dead rubber. 3 hours nearly. Then he plays Djoker.

      Djoker not looking great but I’d back him.

      1. Jonathan, since when has fatigue been a factor for Nadal? Or Djokovic, for that matter. They have removed it from the game. Funny that.

      2. β€œ ‘RAFA looks amazing right now.’ Definitely not.”

        Well thanks O Destroyer of Opinions. But I was talking about the “last few games” as I said.

        I wasn’t referring to the whole match you saw..or you’re reporting on via stats. I just saw the last 15 minutes.

        And I still say – from what I saw – RAFA looked amazing.

        Today Novak looked amazing.

        Have at me.

  15. So Stan vs Feds. I would have preferred AM really, I sort of feel Stan will be out for revenge for last year. πŸ˜‰
    But I’m backing Feds to win just the same. I wonder whether Mirka will be there ready to cry ‘cry baby’ at an opportune moment. πŸ˜†

    1. I’m thinking the entire stadium is going to say it in a weird sing-song unison. If, as you say, an opportune moment presents itself.

      ….What am I thinking, it’s Stan.

      1. What? Stan cried after the semis last year? According to Mcenroe they had their boxing gloves on in the locker room.

  16. The Japanese yodha Kei fought very well
    His stirring comeback was truly so brave
    Soon the Fedforce came out of his shell
    Triumphing again – but what a close shave

    Hopefully no more ‘close shaves’ for the ‘razor-sharp’ stubbled Fed.

    Two contrasting semis. One a ‘Battle of the Boring Baseliners’ and two a ‘Battle of the Beautiful Backhands’

  17. Only saw the highlights, unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see the match.

    In this kind of up-and-down match where neither player can find rhythm and there are a lot of breaks of serve, you would expect Nishikori’s simpler, more consistent game to prevail. Nishikori specializes in taking down high-flying, shotmaking players who are prone to unforced errors–we’ve seen it happen to Wawrinka, Tsonga, and Federer himself, so it’s really a testament to Federer’s confidence in his game that he came through. Like I said, Nishikori’s form improved drastically after his dramatic victory over Berdych and he was somewhere close to his best.

    So often when he gets stuck in these endless rallies against these defensive baseliners, his game collapses. Either he just starts hitting wildly and blindly, or he backs off from the baseline to try to give himself more time, allowing his opponents more time to defend, and exhausts himself trying to hit through them. This time he kept an offensive mentality throughout, never veering into erratic overhitting while never backing down, either. It showed that he has raised his baseline game with the new racket. This is crucial for next year. Nadal will be back in full force and Djokovic will still be formidable, he will need to match both of them from the baseline.

    If Federer was going to have an off-day, he couldn’t have chosen a better time. No pressure to qualify for the knockout round, an extra day of rest awaiting him before the semi.

    Last year, beating Murray so easily might actually have been detrimental for him, perhaps he was a bit lacking in match toughness after such an easy route to the semis. Now he’s been thoroughly tested and has the confidence that comes from winning a close, scrappy match and relying on his grit and fighting spirit rather than overwhelming his opponent with pure shotmaking. Keeping a clean sheet and maintaining his momentum going into the semis was extremely important–it’s one thing to lose early and then sweep the rest of the way, quite another to dominate early and then lose a tight match just before the elimination round.

    Djokovic wasn’t terribly convincing, but he hardly needed to be sharp against an opponent whom he had beaten 20 times to 2. Those believing he’ll be vulnerable in the semis should remember that he straight-setted Berdych with his B game and did the minimum needed to ensure the best possible outcome available to him (a spot in the semis, no energy wasted in a long three-setter).

    Djokovic will be a different beast at the business end of the tournament. Nadal could win his semi (but let’s remember he dropped all of one set in 2013 only to be crushed by Djokovic in the final), but Federer can handle either him or Djokovic if he makes the final.

    My suspicion is that the Federer-Wawrinka semi won’t be the close match people are expecting. If Federer wins, it’ll be a quick match.

    1. Completely agree with you. Djokovic pretty much manhandled Nadal today. Was hitting his spots on serve, pummeling his groundstrokes and seemed pretty determined to win it all. I feel that Federer has to win quick today against Stan to have a realistic chance in the final, to be honest. Beast mode Djoker on these pseudo-hard-courts is pretty much invincible.

  18. Woah Jonathan- on an absolutely unrelated note, the t-shirts (awesome as they may be) are quite pricey. Converting anything into Rupees is usually quite a depressing activity, I have to admit though.

    1. They’re priced at pretty much what you’d expect for the European market really I think. Β£19.99. Shipping 1 t-shirt to India is unviable though, costs more than the t-shirt.

  19. Oh, Jonathan, you have promised your prediction of to-day’s Roger-SF “coming soon…” – I’ve looked for it all day! Should be very soon if at all?

  20. Wish the commies would shut up about the “spat” last year. The back injury was actually more significant, as it turned out.

      1. Chocolate is the most amazing flavor mankind has ever created. Whoever disagrees on this is a filthy Nadal fan!

  21. I’ll admit I got a bit worried when Roger got broken but 3 games later he got his act together, as he’s done lately, fortunately. And the break point conversion was insane, again. How many did he fail to convert? One?

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