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Djokovic Overcomes Federer in Group B

London, England

Novak Djokovic won his third straight FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against Roger Federer on Tuesday in an enthralling Group B clash at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Djokovic, the 2008 titlist and defending champion, won a repeat of last year’s final 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, which lasted two hours and 22 minutes at The O2 in London.

"It was probably the toughest start I could get for this tournament," said Djokovic. "It was always going to be a tough match for both of us.

Djokovic will qualify for the semi-finals on Thursday if he beats Juan Martin del Potro in two sets. He can also book his spot should he beat del Potro and Federer overcomes Richard Gasquet.

The 26-year-old Djokovic improved to a 68-9 match record on the season and kept alive his chances of clinching year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third straight time.

Djokovic saved a break point at 4-4, 30/40 in the first set, when Federer missed a forehand into space by a whisker.

In the next game, Federer came under pressure. At 15/30, Djokovic hit a forehand to Federer’s toes and the six-time former titlist spooned a forehand out of the court.

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Federer saved the first break point with an angled backhand volley, which Djokovic could only just lunge for. Djokovic made sure on the next point to clinch the 37-minute set. Federer, who needed to be aggressive to play close to the baseline, committed 15 unforced errors.

The second set was a tense affair, which Federer should have won sooner than he did. By attacking the net, Federer took time away from Djokovic. Although there were three straight breaks of serve – in games five, six and seven – neither player dominated.

Federer failed to convert a set point opportunity on serve at 5-4. Djokovic went on to convert his second break point chance after a forehand error. In the tie-break, Federer used the angles of the court to great effect and the crowd at The O2 was delighted when he sealed the 70-minute set for a decider.

"Of course, Roger was fighting throughout," said Djokovic. "The second set was very close. I was not satisfied with my serve. I basically played with no serve. No first serves the whole second set. But when I needed to in the third, I served well. I'm just happy that I overcome this challenge.

"It was intense. It was emotional, up and down. But I lost my calmness. I have to say, in the middle of the second set. At 2-2, I had 40 love. I lost that game for no reason. He started playing better. He started making less mistakes."

Djokovic tightened up his game and committed fewer unforced errors in the third set. He broke Federer's serve in the opening game and once he came through an eighth-minute second game the two-time season finale titlist went on to take a 5-1 lead.

Federer kept battling, but Djokovic won 18 of his 20 first service points and struck 13 winners.

"I think Novak also struggled for a long period of time tonight," said Federer. "So did I. I'm not even sure if we played our best in the third [set]. It's just one of those matches you try to take advantage when the other guy's not 100 per cent."

"I thought I had a chance today. So that's the part where I'm unhappy. I wasn't able to take advantage of it. Because I was actually feeling much better than I was in Paris overall, physically.

"I think at this point it's very mental, just making sure I don't get too negative on myself because of the loss today. I mean, it was against Novak after all. It's not against some journeyman."

Federer now has a 42-10 record at the season finale. He is competing for a record-tying 12th straight year.

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