Federer, the most successful player at the season-ending championships with six titles, won 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) at London’s O2 arena.
“It was tough match,” second-ranked Federer said in a courtside interview. “And it was a long match.”
Federer struggled with his serve for most of the afternoon and produced 39 unforced errors, fifteen more than Ferrer. He also struck 28 winners, twelve more than the fourth-seeded Spaniard.
The 31-year-old Swiss right-hander also won his opening match at the ATP Finals, which feature a round-robin format that divides the world’s top eight singles players and doubles pairs into two groups of four, with the top two in each section moving into the single elimination semifinal stage.
Federer, the first man to qualify for the last four, has never lost to Ferrer in 14 matches. Ferrer has won a tour- leading seven tournaments this season, one more his opponent, and entered today’s meeting on an 11-match win streak that included titles in Valencia and Paris.
After being eclipsed in the rankings last year by Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Federer peaked at Wimbledon this year, where he beat Britain’s Andy Murray to win a men’s record-extending 17th Grand Slam title. He won the silver medal at the London Olympics and completed a record 302nd week at No. 1 before being bumped aside by Djokovic this week. He’ll end the season inside the top two for the ninth time in 10 years.
Just like at the four majors, Federer’s achievements at the ATP Finals are unrivaled in the men’s game: a 41-7 career record in 11 appearances and the unprecedented six titles. Lendl and Pete Sampras are next with five championships.
Federer squandered a 3-0 lead in the first set today, and then hit an easy forehand opportunity into the net at 4-3. After taking the set on Ferrer’s backhand error, Federer saved two break points in the opening game of the second.
Federer regained the rhythm on his serve in the tiebreaker as he improved his first-serve percentage -- which had been at 40 percent for most of the match -- to 53 percent. He set up three match points with an ace, and moved to his 10th ATP semifinal with a service winner.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Danielle Rossingh at email@example.com