London: Roger Federer may be just two wins away from a 100th career title, but the Swiss ace is not looking too far ahead as he braces for a 15th semi-final appearance from 16 visits to the ATP Finals on Saturday.
Outlasted by Japan’s Kei Nishikori in straight sets in their opener last Sunday, Federer has won the remaining two encounters against Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson to book his spot as leader of Group Lleyton Hewitt.
Required to win at least six games against Anderson on Thursday, Federer ran away with a 6-4, 6-3 win in an hour and 16 minutes to finish ahead of the South African and to live another day.
“Personally, I’m still not thinking of the No. 100. I won’t let that get in my head, make me go crazy because it should be something I’m excited about and not something I should feel extra pressure,” Federer admitted after his win against Anderson — his quarter-final Wimbledon conqueror four months ago.
“I’m happy I gave myself the opportunity. I’m happy that I’m raising my level of play throughout this week. This is what I hope to do. Yeah, it’s exciting to be in this situation now,” he added.
Federer’s semi-final opponent on Saturday will be decided after the final round-robin encounters between John Isner and Alexander Zverev, while the already-qualified Djokovic takes on Marin Cilic later in the night.
And one of the reasons, Federer is not looking too much ahead is because reigning world No. 1 Djokovic — who is scheduled to take on Anderson in the semi-final — is still in the fray to equal Federer’s six titles at the year-ending competition.
“As long as I think Novak is in the draw it’s is never going to be easy,” Federer said.
“He’s playing so good again, it’s never going to be easy. I think it’s just going to be hard to finish it.”
However, the Swiss former world No. 1 agreed that he was enjoying the fact that he has entered the knockout semi-finals for the 15th time out of the 16 occasions he has qualified to this year-ender.
“I think regardless of the numbers, this is a massive tournament for the players,” he said. “Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I’ve loved being part of the Tennis Masters Cup at the time, and today the World Tour Finals. I’ve always tried to pace myself in a way, set up my schedule in a way that I would have something left in the tank so that I would peak at this event.
“I’m happy that this is another week like this and it didn’t look like it maybe 72 hours ago [after his loss to Nishikori]. But I was able to come back and play good tennis.”