LONDON // Roger Federer is on the verge of qualifying for the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals after cruising to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori at London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday.
Federer, bidding for his seventh title at the prestigious season-ending event, took just 69 minutes to secure his second Group B win and the world No 2 would be guaranteed a last-four berth depending on the outcome of the Andy Murray-Milos Raonic match, also on Tuesday night.
At 33, Federer is the oldest player to qualify for the Tour Finals in his 13th consecutive appearance, but he has been in age-defying form over the past three days.
The 17-time grand slam title champion has defeated Raonic and US Open finalist Nishikori, two of the much-touted next generation of rising stars, without dropping a set.
If he beats Murray tomorrow, the Swiss will be guaranteed a top spot in the group, which would bring the added bonus of likely avoiding a semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic.
Federer, who last won the Tour Finals in 2011, did not need to be at his very best against Nishikori, who made 30 unforced errors in a sloppy effort that left him with one win from two matches, damaging his hopes of making the last four ahead of his final group fixture against Raonic.
“I’ve known Kei since he was 17 years old and always thought he was a great talent. He’s going to have a great future so I’m very pleased with the way I played,” Federer said.
“I’m looking forward to playing Andy. We’ve played some of the greatest matches. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to watch him tonight though. I’ve got kids so it’s during a time where I usually put everybody to bed.”
Nishikori, the first Asian singles players to make the Tour Finals, grew up idolising Federer and conceded this week that he was overwhelmed by nerves when he first got the chance to play the Swiss legend.
But, aided by coach Michael Chang, he has won two of his other three meetings with Federer.
Nishikori has beaten more top-10 opponents over the past 11 months than in the previous seven years on the ATP Tour.
Yesterday, too, he had an early chance to take control at the O2 with two break points in the third game.