Roger Federer staved off elimination from the ATP Finals as the six-time champion eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.
After losing his opening match at London’s O2 Arena against Kei Nishikori, Federer would have crashed out if he had been beaten by Thiem.
Only once before has Federer failed to qualify from his group for the knockout rounds in his 15 previous appearances at the prestigious season-ending event.
That lone flop came 10 years ago when the Finals were held in Shanghai and Federer is still in with a chance of avoiding that ignominious fate thanks to his comfortable 66-minute dismissal of Thiem.
Bidding for a record seventh ATP Finals crown and a first in the tournament since 2011 – which would be the 100th singles title of his glittering career – world No 3 Federer must beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in his last group match to make the semifinals.
“It feels good. I am very happy that I showed a reaction after the last match,” Federer said.
“Against Kei, instead of seeing things positively, I thought negatively. It was disappointing but it happens.
“Today I was more positive and happy on the court. I love playing in London and I had to remind myself what a privilege it is. I hope I showed it.”
Earlier, Kevin Anderson handed Japan’s Kei Nishikori a humiliating 6-0, 6-1 thrashing to move to the brink of a semifinal berth on Tuesday.
Anderson won the first 11 games and needed only 64 minutes to demolish the woeful Nishikori in a remarkably one-sided group stage clash at London’s O2 Arena.
The South African giant next takes on Federer where even a defeat may see him advance depending on the outcome of the clash between Nishikori and Thiem.