Nishikori Upsets Federer in ATP Finals Opener – For the first time in his career, Roger Federer lost a match in the group stage of the ATP Finals in straight sets. It was also the first time he lost a match at all in the group stage since 2013. Out of sorts, the 6-time champion hit 34 unforced errors for the match, in a 7-6 (4) 6-3 loss to Kei Nishikori. It was his first loss to the 29-year-old from Japan since 2014. After staying even in the first set, Nishikori pounced to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreak, holding on for a one set lead. The 37-year-old Swiss was unable to hold on to a break to start the second set, immediately broken back, and a costly double fault at 30-all in the sixth game put Nishikori ahead and he served it out after 87 minutes.
Federer will now face Dominic Thiem on Tuesday, in essentially a knock-out round robin match. Thiem lost to Kevin Anderson in Sunday’s first match. Both players are seeking to level their 0-1 records to 1-1, giving them a chance to advance to the semifinals. Two of the four players in each group advance, with sets won or if needed, games won, determining the tiebreakers between the players.
“I felt we both struggled throughout the first set,” said Federer. “I had my chances maybe a bit more than he did. Then I started to feel better in the second set. I think we both did. The level went up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the lead that I got early. That was important, I think, at the end. That was the key of the match, that sort of – I guess – [a] 10-minute swing at the end of the first throughout maybe 1-1 in the second.”