Roger Federer got back on track with a 7-6(2) 6-3 defeat of Italian Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday and immediately set his sights on a crunch clash with Novak Djokovic that will decide his ATP Finals fate.
Defeat by Austrian Dominic Thiem in his opening round-robin match on Sunday has left the 20-time Grand Slam champion facing only his second group stage exit in 17 appearances at the year-ender.
He repaired some of the damage with an emphatic victory over Italian debutant Berrettini, but will likely need to beat Djokovic to avoid falling before the semi-finals of a tournament he has won a record six times.
Their 49th meeting will take place on Thursday and will be their first clash since Djokovic beat Federer in July’s epic Wimbledon final – in which the Swiss held two match points before losing a fifth-set tiebreak.
“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then,” Federer said when asked if the memory of that Center Court defeat was still a bitter one.