At the Nitto ATP Tour Championships being staged at London’s O2 Arena, second seed Roger Federer seemed to be cruising to a straightforward victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Sunday evening before his progress – and his mood were suddenly turned upside down by a code violation issued against him by umpire David Steiner after he lashed a ball into the metal gantry high above the overhead scoreboard.
He thought I was angry, but I wasn’t. Now I’m angry, because I lost! Roger Federer
Leading 6-5 in the first set, Federer seemed about to move ahead 15-40 with two set points when Nishikori made a miraculously stop half-volley to save the day.
Rushing forward, Federer took a swipe at the ball, sending it high into the O2’s roof girders, never to return. When asked afterwards if the umpire’s call had angered him, Federer replied “He thought I was angry, but I wasn’t. Now I’m angry, because I lost!”
Full credit should go to Nishikori, who fought his way to the O2 after dropping down to play on the Challenger Tour on return from injury earlier this year. He had to weather a barrage of attacking strokes from Federer in the first set but having done so, grew in confidence as the match progressed and ran out a worthy 7-6(4) 6-3 winner.
Nishikori now needs just one more win to progress to next Saturday’s semi-finals, while Federer must beat both Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson to reach the last four.
Earlier in the day Anderson beat Thiem 6-3 7-6(10) to open his account in Group Lleyton Hewitt. It was a pulsating encounter which suggests that Federer faces two tough matches to keep his hopes of a seventh ATP World Tour Finals title alive.