LONDON (AP) Roger Federer made up for his own mistakes in a see-saw match to earn his third straight victory at the ATP finals on Thursday, beating Kei Nishikori 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to secure top spot in his group and eliminate the Japanese player.
Federer broke for a 3-1 lead in all three sets but Nishikori came back each time, taking advantage of some rare mishits by the Swiss star along the way. But he finally ran out of comebacks as Federer earned his sixth break of the match in the last game, clinching the win with a smash at London's O2 Arena.
Federer finished the group stage 3-0 while Nishikori was eliminated with a 1-2 record. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic played Tomas Berdych in the late match needing to win just a set to advance.
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Federer had a mini-slump in the first set as Nishikori broke twice to take a 4-3 lead but earned a second break right back after the Japanese player missed two straight forehands. Nishikori had a chance to force a tiebreaker at 6-5 but Federer saved a game point with a backhand passing shot after one of the best exchanges of the match. Nishikori then hit two shots into the net to hand Federer the set.
The Swiss star, who beat both Berdych and Djokovic in straight sets, looked headed for another routine victory when he hit a backhand return winner to go 3-1 up in the second. But Nishikori broke back and Federer then handed him another game point when he badly mishit an easy forehand volley at the net at 4-4.
Federer then dug himself out of a 0-40 hole in the third game of the decider before breaking for another 3-1 lead. He wasted that one as well as Nishikori pulled level at 4-4, but it was the Japanese player who made the final key mistake.
Serving to stay in the match, Nishikori double-faulted at 40-30 and then missed a forehand long to hand Federer match point. Federer finished emphatically, jumping up to hammer home a forehand smash.