Federer up and running
Roger Federer kickstarted his bid to win a seventh ATP World Tour Finals title – and his first since 2011 – with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over event debutant Jack Sock.
Having qualified courtesy of his maiden Masters 1000 title in Paris, Sock was initially – and understandably – nervous here in London, and Federer capitalised with a break of serve in the very first game.
The American did regain his poise, and had some success with his powerful forehand, but was unable to restore parity as the opener went the way of the Swiss.
The second set was a tighter affair, but although Sock was growing in confidence, he was unable to make the returns that would trouble the Federer serve; in all, the 36-year-old just dropped 11 points in 11 service games.
In truth, the reigning Wimbledon singles champion had set a course for victory early on in the encounter, and never looked likely to be derailed.
By way of contrast, Sock was made to work hard for his service holds, but stuck to his task admirably, frustrating Federer as he fended off a pair of break points at 3-3, two more at 4-4 and then another at 5-5.
The pair arrived at a tie-break, and though Sock did recover from a mini-break to get to 4-4, he promptly handed the initiative back to his opponent with a double-fault, and Federer served out the encounter for his 50th match win of the season.
“I’m happy that I was able to come out today and had actually good energy,” said Federer, who is the oldest man to qualify for the ATP’s season-ending finale since 1970.
“This is the best I’ve felt since the Del Potro final (in Basel). I’m very happy to see that I didn’t have to pay the price for taking it easy and resting and recovering.
“I think we’re all going to start playing better every round that goes by.”