LONDON – Swiss great Roger Federer rallied from a set down to defeat Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1 on Thursday afternoon and remain unbeaten at the ATP Finals ahead of semifinal action this weekend.
The second-ranked Federer, who routed Cilic in straight sets in this year’s Wimbledon final to extend his record Grand Slam men’s singles title haul to 19, recorded his eighth victory in nine career matches over the Croat.
“I played very well so really happy to be playing at this level right now,” Federer said after wrapping up the victory at the O2 Arena in London in one hour and 54 minutes.
Cilic, who had already been eliminated from semifinal contention after losses earlier in the week to Germany’s Alexander Zverev and American Jack Sock in Group Boris Becker, stayed level with Federer in the first set by staving off four break points and then won it in a tiebreaker.
But the 36-year-old six-time champion came charging back, breaking Cilic’s serve in the final game of the second set and then rolling to an easy victory in the third.
Federer, who had defeated Sock on Sunday and Zverev on Tuesday, has now advanced unbeaten to the last four of the ATP Finals for the 10th time in 15th appearances at this elite, year-end indoor hard-court event.
In the final Group Boris Becker match Thursday night, Zverev will take on Sock to determine who finishes runner-up in the group and earns the right to play on Saturday.
Next up for Federer will be either Belgium’s David Goffin or Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who will square off in Group Pete Sampras action Friday with a semifinal berth at stake.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov has already advanced out of that group with wins over Thiem and Goffin.