Roger Federer at centre of ATP Finals 'embarrassment'

Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson have sparked what’s been labelled an ’embarrassment’ for the ATP Finals.

Federer and Anderson both blitzed their younger rivals on Tuesday (local time), taking about an hour each to dispatch Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori respectively.

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Federer needed just 66 minutes to stave off the Austrian 6-2 6-3, while Anderson took two minutes less to crush Nishikori 6-0 6-1.

The lopsided victories, in an event that features the top eight players in the world and would seemingly produce evenly-matched opponents, left many commentators with a sour taste in their mouths.

Roger Federer. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Stuart Fraser of The Times was particularly critical, labelling the showing of Thiem and Nishikori an ’embarrassment’.

Federer avoids early exit

Federer found himself with his back to the wall after an error-strewn loss to Nishikori in his opening round-robin match – his first straight sets defeat in 46 group stage matches at the season-ending showpiece.

Another loss would have made it impossible for him to reach the semi-finals for the 15th time in 16 appearances at the tournament.

Yet 48 hours later, the 37-year-old Federer rebounded in style, to the delight of the crowd packed into The O2 arena.

Thiem saved a break point in the opening game but he sent a forehand long to give Federer an early break and was broken again for 5-2 as Federer cruised to the opening set.

Dominic Thiem shakes hands with Roger Federer. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Federer turned the screws to break again immediately in the second set and never looked in any danger.

“It feels good, I’m very happy I showed a reaction after the last match against Kei” Federer said.

“No match is easy here and it’s not something I’m used to, losing and then coming back and playing again, but it’s a great challenge and I’m happy with my attitude and how I played.”

Federer and Anderson to meet next

Tournament debutant Anderson leads the group with two wins and would have been assured of a semi-final spot had Federer been beaten by Thiem or even dropped a set.

Kevin Anderson (R) shakes hands with Kei Nishikori (L). (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The 32-year-old won the first 11 games against Nishikori before his relieved opponent finally got on the scoreboard with an angled winner.

“Amongst the best (matches) I’ve played,” Anderson, who lost just eight points on serve, said.

“I felt I did a fantastic job throughout really.”

Federer will likely have to avenge his Wimbledon loss this year by Anderson to reach the semi-finals, although all four players in the group could still mathematically progress.

“I hope it’s not a match like Kevin played this afternoon,” Federer said.

“It’s never easy to play against him, especially indoors. He deserved that win at Wimbledon but hopefully I’ll get my revenge.”

with AAP