Roger Federer ended 2018 with four titles, including the Australian Open as he lost in the semi-finals to Alexander Zverev. (Image credit: Twitter)
Roger Federer was denied a record 100th ATP Tour title as he suffered a 5-7,6-7 (5) loss to 21-year-old German Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the year-ending ATP Finals. However, the match was marred by a bizarre incident involving a fumble by the ball boy. With Federer leading the tie-breaker 4-3 after losing the first set 5-7, an incident took place involving a ball-boy which changed the course of the game and resulted in the crowd booing Zverev after the conclusion. The German was pretty upset about the reaction but Federer insisted that there was no problem and that he played by the rules.
Zverev stopped a rally with Federer in the second-set tie-break after a ball boy dropped a ball. The German won the replayed point with an ace and nudged into a 5-4 lead before Federer inexplicably netted with a simple forehand volley to hand the German two match points, the second of which he took on his own serve.
This was a moment pic.twitter.com/iYeIn4cwSJ— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 17, 2018
Immediately after the match, Zverev apologised and said the ball boy had dropped the ball and according to the rules, the players must stop the point. This did not go down with the partisan crowd in London’s O2 Arena and they started booing the German. The on-court presenter urged the fans to show ‘a bit more respect’ to the youngster, who was on the verge of tears.
Describing the move as a “big call”, Federer did not blame the German or the ball boy and did not in any way question the sportsmanship of Zverev. “From that standpoint, it's OK, it happens. It's all good. It's all good. I hope he doesn't have a sleepless night. It's not a big deal at the end of the day. I'm definitely not mad at him," Federer said.
Clash with Djoker
Zverev’s hard-fought win against Federer has helped him reach the final where he will now face Novak Djokovic, who will aim to end the year on a high after demolishing South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-2,6-2 in the other semi-final.
World number one Djokovic never looked remotely troubled as he came closer to a record-equalling sixth end-of-season title. "I'm very pleased I'm able to play at a high level consistently week after week for the last six months," said Djokovic. "I played very well in the group stage against Sascha (Zverev) but I don't think he was close to his best... It is the last match of the year for both of us so let the better player win."
Djokovic and Zverev have clashed three times, with the German winning their first encounter in 2017 with the Serb bouncing back with two wins, including one in the league stages of the ATP Finals.