Ghostbuster! Federer Says Djokovic Demons Were A Myth
Roger Federer insisted that the ghosts of his Wimbledon final defeat to Novak Djokovic, in which Federer lost two match points on his serve in the fifth set, never existed. But even if they did, they would be long gone by now.
Federer extinguished any bad Djokovic memories he might have held, even in the recesses of his brain, with a 6-4, 6-3 win against the World No. 2 on Thursday night at the Nitto ATP Finals. The 38-year-old Swiss ended a five-match losing streak against Djokovic and clinched his 16th semi-final in 17 appearances at the season finale.
“[The ghosts] were never really there. There [were] some press guys that made that up. So from my standpoint, I also didn't know I hadn't beaten him in a few years, actually. Didn't feel that way because it was so close in Paris  and in Wimbledon against him,” Federer said.
“I felt like I was going to have my chance, to be quite honest... I'm just happy at the level I could play today, and obviously it's always special beating Novak, even more so [because] of what happened. But I didn't feel like I had to get rid of the ghosts or anything like that. I feel like I moved on pretty quickly after that.”
Federer improved to 53-9 on the season and earned his record-extending 59th Nitto ATP Finals win. The Swiss will now go for a record-extending seventh title this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, Federer plays the winner of Group Andre Agassi, which will be determined on Friday.
“I have been playing very well this season, and I think this victory proves that today,” Federer said.
The win, Federer's 23rd against Djokovic (Djokovic leads 26-23) and first since the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals, was a team effort. Together, Federer and coaches Severin Luthi and Ivan Ljubicic, spent about 75 minutes discussing strategy ahead of the match. Federer needed only 73 minutes to execute the plan.
“There is a lot that goes into a match like this. I spoke at length to the team before, probably over an hour 15 about all the different possibilities, about what can happen. They told me what they think is going to happen. We shared those feelings. When you walk out, you just don't know if any of it is going to work out or come the way it will,” Federer said.
“I felt from the get-go I had good rhythm off the baseline and on the serve and that I felt like he was living dangerously if he was not going to play great tennis. That was a good feeling to have, but then again, that doesn't mean much because Novak has done an unbelievable job in his career to find ways to either make you play bad or to just be better on you on the day or squeeze another victory out like the way he did at Wimbledon.”
This time, however, Federer more than held on as a pro-Swiss crowd at The O2 showered him with chants of “Let's go, Roger, let's go!”
“I knew the beginning wasn't key, but I knew it was important. I had a great run on the serve, as well, throughout I think that first set. I was able to keep the pressure going and mix up my game. Because he was playing incredibly aggressive at one point midway through the first set, which surprised me a little bit,” Federer said.
“Things just worked very well for me. Tonight was one of those nights where I was clear in the game plan. I got what I kind of expected, and it was a great feeling at the very end.”