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Federer Keeps Hopes Alive With Win Over Gasquet

London, England

Six-time former champion Roger Federer kept alive his chances of qualifying for the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday when he won his first Group B round robin match (1-1) this week.

Sixth seed Federer won his 43rd match at the season finale (since 2002) with a 6-4, 6-3 win over eighth seed Richard Gasquet in 79 minutes at The O2 in London.

"Richard does a good job of making you feel uncomfortable at the same time as well, because he uses heights [and] spins really well,” said Federer. “He likes extended rallies. I'm trying to force the issue. But I guess those are the kind of matches I need right now – straight sets against a good player."

Federer will close out round robin action on Saturday against Juan Martin del Potro, while Gasquet plays Novak Djokovic. Following the Argentine’s loss Thursday night to the defending champion, Federer and del Potro will meet in a winner-take-all clash with the victor moving through to the semi-finals.

Only once in his previous 11 years has Federer not advanced out of round robin play in 2008 (1-2).

Federer broke Gasquet’s serve in the third game held to 15 for a 3-1 lead. But Gasquet’s persistence got him back into the set at 4-4, after Federer mis-timed a backhand at 30/40. The Frenchman’s hard work was undone by three groundstroke errors in the next game. Federer broke and calmly held serve to complete the 34-minute opener.

Federer may well have won five straight games to lead 3-0 in the second set – but Gasquet managed to regain his composure in the nick of time at 0-2, 30/40. Gasquet was never comfortable on court. His trusted single-handed backhand failed him on 11 occasions as Federer used the angles to open up space.

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Federer was mightily relieved when he converted his sixth match point opportunity in a 16-point ninth game of the set.

"Comparing the 2013 ATP World Tour season to previous trophy-laden campaigns," Federer admitted, “I needed the hard fought wins back then to go on and win the tournament. Now I feel like the hard fought wins are there to get me back to a really good level, a very competitive level.

"I'm not coming back from a serious injury, but I'm coming back from a lot of sort of ups and downs, resetting things, trying out things, making sure I get my confidence back, my movement and so forth. So it's a totally different situation."

Federer committed 17 of his 30 unforced errors on the forehand wing. He struck 29 winners in total and won 16 of his 20 points at the net, having carefully crafted openings from the back of the court.

Federer now has an 11-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Gasquet, who also qualified for the season finale in 2007. Gasquet is two match wins shy of 350 career victories (348-206). He won three ATP World Tour 250 titles this year.

"It's disappointing for me to lose two matches in a row, but I tried my best,” said Gasquet. “It's a very nice to play on this court... [and] the atmosphere is great.

"I think I tried to play more aggressive. Sometimes he did it. Sometimes I did it. But I need to play better and more aggressive to win these matches especially indoors."

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