ATP Finals: Anderson wins, Federer loses to Nishikori

Kevin Anderson has had such a solid year. The 33-year-old veteran has improved his backhand,  his speed, and net play. Go back five years and he was struggling mentally, but now, he is pretty calm and directed.

On Sunday in the ATP Finals in London, Anderson overcame the Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6(10), attacking the net regularly.

Thiem has also improved this year. He was always very good on clay, but he had to understand what he needs to do on hardcourts, which are much faster. However, both of them still have return substantially better, just like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer do. And today, Nishikori also did it, especially serving.

Champions like Djokovic and Federer return well all the time, and that is why they have thousands of  break points. Indoors, in London, it is warm and there is no wind, so Anderson  can swing out — when he wants to. Maybe the South African can reach the semis, but he has a long way to go. He was nervous, but today, he settled in.

“I definitely felt a little bit nervous. But very quickly and find a really good rhythm, taking care of my service games nicely [and I] created quite a few opportunities on his serve,” said Anderson. “He wasn’t serving at a very high first-serve percentage. I felt I was getting into quite a few points. The second set could have been anybody’s set. When it’s 12/10 in the tiebreak, it really could have gone either way.”

At night, Kei Nishikori stunned the 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer 7-6 (4), 6-3. Now that was surprising, not because the Japanese has had a very decent year, but because the Swiss has played in London extremely well over the years, on grass and indoors on hard courts. But in his first match, he was frustrated.  

“I hope I don’t go on vacation with three losses. Let’s put it that way,” Federer said. And how.

So Federer lost, but it is a round-robin, so he can reach the semis, but he has to re-compose. He committed 34 unforced errors, and that is a lot. He does not do it often, but he received a code violation for banging a ball into the crowds. Ouch. Federer won the Australian Open, skipped Roland Garros, and then he was ousted at Wimbledon and the US Open. Recently, he won Basel again, but the 37-year-old might be aging a little more. That is inevitable.

“My season [in 2018] was never going to be exactly like last year,” Federer said. “I knew that going into the season. If you thought I was going to have, I think you are dreaming. I’m happy how I played this season. I didn’t feel like playing less was a problem.”

He did add that Nishikori had a very good year. At the end of 2017, he was hurt and he couldn’t play. He came back in February and it took him awhile to be comfortable. He is now.

“I’m really happy for [Kei] that he qualified for this event – not taking me out today – but I’m happy for him because he started playing challengers this season,” Federer said. “That was a bold decision early on and deserves credit and respect. I think we all have that for Kei because he’s a great fighter.”

Federer will plays Thiem on Tuesday, while Anderson will face Nishikori.

NOTES
The United States lost 3-0 against the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup finals. That is the sixth time in eight years that the Czechs have won it. They are so good. Katerina Siniakova  saved two match points and won it 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 over Sofia Kenin. Close but no cigar for the Americans. …

Stefanos Tsitsipas won the Next Gen ATP Finals title in Milan over Alex de Minaur. The Greek will crack into the top 10 pretty soon. He is very tall and he just crushed the ball off of both wings.
 
The coach and broadcaster Darren Cahill has stopped coaching Simona Halep. “I’ve decided to take a 12-month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming,” Cahill wrote.

Czech Lucie Safarova, who peaked by reaching the 2015 Roland Garros final, will retire at the Australian Open in January. Her body is declining. “I had a great career, but my health doesn’t allow me to continue,” Safarova said. That is too bad, she always hustles and she always smiles, too.

Speak Your Mind

*