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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, November 12, 2017

 
Roger Federer

Roger Federer stopped Jack Sock, 6-4, 7-6 (4) for his 50th win of the season at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Photo credit: Shanghai Rolex Masters

LONDON—Roger Federer remains perfect in London this year.

Launching his quest for a seventh Nitto ATP Finals title, Federer broke in the opening game of the match subduing Jack Sock, 6-4, 7-6 (4), in the opening match of Group Boris Becker at the O2 Arena.

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It was Federer’s 50th win of the season against only four losses.

"It was more about managing the match rather than actually having a certain way how you play and what you were really thinking about," Federer said afterward. "Sure, I had a tactical plan with my team. But very often in a first match like this, it gets thrown overboard because at the end you're just happy to be serving well. Focus on that first, and then on the return game sort of try your best, try to keep the ball in play, and go from there.

"I think that's the difficulty in a first round usually at any tournament. Here it's amplified because it's against a fellow top-10 player. It just makes things really, really difficult sometimes."

The second-ranked Swiss has yet to surrender a set in London this season.

Federer soared to his record eighth Wimbledon championship with a crushing 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, conquest of an emotionally depleted Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon final becoming the first man to win The Championships without permitting a set since his Laver Cup captain, Bjorn Borg, did it in 1976.

Facing 2014 Wimbledon doubles champion Sock, Federer set the tone on serve today. He served 63 percent, won 36 of 40 first-serve points and did not face a break point.

“In the second, he caught a serving rhythm,” Sock said. “I think everybody wants to talk obviously about the big guys who do have the best serves, Isner and them. For guys of average height like the rest of us, his serve is extremely difficult to read and catch up with sometimes. He served well today.”

Choosing to receive, Federer lashed a flurry of winners opening with the only break of the match.

Dancing around a backhand, Federer fired a forehand winner down the line for break point. Catching Sock leaning left, Federer lashed his second backhand winner down the line of the game to break at 30.

“I actually don’t think I played too bad of a game,” Sock said. “I missed one serve in the first game. I had my chances. He put me in some awkward positions on some of those forehands. Like the first point, kind of had to pick on direction. He guessed the right way, hit a good shot after.”

The eight-seeded Sock lived up to his J-Sizzle nickname with both shotmaking and sense of humor.



Serving at 2-4, Sock dug out a backhand half volley sat up inside the service box. The American turned his backside to net in a show of concession, Federer netted the forehand sitter. A surprised Sock pointed at his butt as if reminding Federer he missed the target holding for 3-4 then patted Federer on the shoulder as they walked to the changeover.

Federer cracked four of his five aces in the first set, including successive aces to serve out the opener in 36 minutes. He won 16 of 18 points on first serve in the first set.

In the second set, Paris Masters champion Sock saved two break points in the seventh game then slashed a pair of aces to hold for 4-3.




Deadlocked at 4-all, 30-all, Sock hit a tweener volley only to see Federer flick a pass down the line drawing an extended roar from the crowd. Sock denied two more break points holding for 5-4.

Precision serving powered Federer through four consecutive love holds in the set—he won 29 of 32 points on his serve in the second—including an ace to force the tie break.

Sock’s sixth double fault of the match gave Federer the mini break and a 5-4 lead. The six-time champion sealed a 90-minute win when Sock’s return sailed long.

"I'm happy that I was able to come out today and had actually good energy," Federer said. "This is the best I've felt since the del Potro (Basel) finals. I'm very happy to see that I didn't have to pay the price for taking it easy, you know, resting, recovering. But then turning it up the last few days got me in shape for today."

Federer raised his World Tour Finals career record to 53-12, most all-time wins in tournament history.

World Tour Finals debutant Sock was satisfied with his performance while disappointed by the result. 

“Not a whole lot to hang my head about,” Sock said. “Obviously, you know, would like to start out with a win instead, especially being right there. It was a couple of points.

“Had some good looks to get back on serve in the first. He came up with some good shots in the breaker. Other than that, it was a close match.”


 

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