Djokovic humbles Federer
The Serb managed to beat Federer despite the Swiss maestro's firing start.
LONDON - Roger Federer showed flashes of his best but Novak Djokovic exposed the Swiss maestro's fading powers with a three-set victory at the ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday.
World number two Djokovic briefly looked in trouble midway through an absorbing Group B opener but eventually surged to a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 win in front of another sell-out crowd at the O2 Arena.
Djokovic's win, his 18th in a row since losing to Rafa Nadal in the US Open final, was his second in four days over Federer and kept alive his slender hopes of toppling the Spaniard from the top of the world rankings.
After spluttering into life, however, Federer lost his spark in the deciding set as Djokovic repeated his victory over the Swiss in Paris at the weekend.
"It's slow here and it's the first match, so there's going to be errors," Federer, who had not lost his opening match at the Tour Finals since 2008, told reporters.
In the day's Group A match, Nadal crushed compatriot David Ferrer 6-3 6-2 and will seal the year-end No. 1 ranking for the third time in his stellar career if he beats Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka on Wednesday.
Three days after losing to Ferrer in the Paris Masters semi-finals, Nadal resumed his customary dominance over his compatriot with a victory that will not live long in the memory.
"I played with a little bit more calm than the other day," Nadal, told reporters after his first match at the venue.
"Last year was a big miss for me. Even if I was not able to play my best a lot of times here, I really have great feelings every time I have the chance to play in this stadium."
Djokovic, on the other hand, was made to work hard against old adversary Federer.
However, the 31st clash between the two never quite reached a crescendo as Federer showed he is struggling to maintain the intensity needed to get the better of the top guns in world tennis.
Federer, who has won a record six titles at the year-ender, remained hopeful of beating Richard Gasquet on Thursday to keep alive his hopes of ending a disappointing year on a high.
Djokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday and said he was relieved to survive a tough opener.
Meanwhile, Djokovic says he has lost all trust in the anti-doping programme in tennis and fears he could become a victim of its negligence after fellow Serbian Victor Troicki failed to have his doping ban overturned on Tuesday.
"First of all, Viktor is a very good friend of mine," an emotional Djokovic told a late-night news conference at London's O2 Arena. "It's very bad news that we got for him, and for me, for all of us who are close to him.
"But I think it's just not bad news for him, it proves again that this system of WADA and anti-doping agency does not work.