Dominic Thiem keeps getting the better of Roger Federer.
Thiem on Sunday beat Federer 7-5, 7-5 in their opening match at the ATP Finals for his fifth win in seven meetings with the Swiss great — and the third straight this year.
“To beat him, everything has to fit together. Today, I think [that] was the case again,” Thiem said. “Every time, only playing against him is a big honor. Beating him is even better.”
Thiem broke in the opening game of the match and again for a 6-5 lead in the first set after Federer had leveled at 2-2.
The second set went with serve until Thiem broke at love for another 6-5 lead.
Federer, a record six-time champion at the ATP Finals, then missed two break points in the next game before netting a backhand on Thiem’s second match point.
Thiem also beat Federer at the Madrid Masters and in the Indian Wells final this year, but lost to him in the group stage at last year’s ATP Finals.
For Federer, the loss means there is no room for another slipup in his next two round-robin matches, against Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini.
He will probably have to win both to reach the semi-finals.
“It’s a normal tournament from here on forward,” Federer said. “Not allowed to lose anymore for me. That’s how it is every week of the year for the last 20 years, so from that standpoint there is nothing new there.”
Djokovic had a much easier start to the tournament, easing past Berrettini 6-2, 6-1 in their round-robin match, but despite a near flawless performance, Djokovic still found a way to berate himself.
Leading 4-0 in the second set against the Italian, Djokovic hit a backhand wide to concede a break to the Italian, and then angrily turned toward his player’s box and shouted out his frustration.
“There’s no other reasonable explanation [to that reaction] than trying to play as perfect as possible, but I guess that’s me, you know,” Djokovic said.
Berrettini was making his debut at the event and had never faced Djokovic before. He said he struggled with the speed of the court.
“The ball is not jumping a lot, so it’s tough to mix, especially my forehand,” Berrettini said. “I think I started the match pretty good, but he was just better than me today.”
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