Federer repels Nishikori fightback to win group
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Roger Federer's enduring brilliance and his sheer hatred of losing allowed him to withstand a stunning fightback by Kei Nishikori and remain undefeated at the ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday.
The 34-year-old Swiss maestro was on auto-pilot when he led 4-1 in the second set, having snatched an absorbing opener, but needed every shot in his formidable armoury to eventually claw out a 7-5 4-6 6-4 victory.
Japan's Nishikori had looked the more likely winner after reeling off five consecutive games to take the six-times former champion into a deciding set, but his stirring efforts proved in vain as Federer squeezed home.
Federer topped Stan Smith Group with a 100 percent record -- the ninth time in 14 consecutive appearances at the elite event he has won all three of his round-robin matches.
World number one Novak Djokovic, beaten emphatically by Federer on Tuesday, joined the Swiss in the semi-finals when he beat Tomas Berdych 6-3 7-5 in the evening match at the O2 Arena.
The Serb, bidding for a fourth straight title at the season-ender, could have qualified with a three-set defeat, but took no chances in a businesslike display to finish runner up in the group and set up a clash with a resurgent Rafael Nadal.
Federer will play either Andy Murray or Stanislas Wawrinka who complete the round-robin matches in the Ilie Nastase group on Friday.
Nishikori bowed out, having only managed to beat Berdych, but he got a ringing endorsement from the 34-year-old Federer. Continued...