Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his singles match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy during Day Three of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 12 2019 in London, England. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ JULIAN FINNEY
Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his singles match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy during Day Three of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 12 2019 in London, England. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ JULIAN FINNEY

London — Roger Federer kept alive his hopes of a seventh ATP Finals crown on Tuesday, beating Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/2) 6-3 at London’s O2 Arena.

The Swiss third seed put himself under enormous pressure by losing his first match on Sunday in straight sets in Group Bjorn Borg to Dominic Thiem.

The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for Berrettini, who won just three games against Novak Djokovic in his opener.

Both players were solid on serve in the first set, with Federer struggling to make inroads against the eighth seed. He eventually earned himself the sniff of a chance in the 12th game, winning the first break point of the match, but Berrettini snuffed out the danger and held to take it into a tie-break.

Federer upped the level of his game in the shootout, helped by some wayward shots from his opponent plus a Berrettini double-fault and won it comfortably 7-2.

The Swiss, clad in black, broke immediately at the start of the second to leave the Italian with a mountain to climb. Berrettini earned a clutch of break points in the eighth game but Federer eventually served himself out of trouble, sealing the game with an ace.

On Monday top seed Rafael Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.

The top two players from each group qualify for the semifinals.

AFP