Federer inches closer to semis

Swiss ace drubs Nishikori in vintage display; holder Djokovic dismantles Cilic

Federer inches closer to semis

Roger Federer is on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals of the ATP Tour Finals after cruising to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori at London's O2 Arena.

Federer, bidding for his seventh title at the prestigious season-ending event, took just 69 minutes to secure his second Group B win and the world number two will be guaranteed a last four berth if Milos Raonic defeats Andy Murray later on Tuesday, or if Murray beats Raonic in three sets.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer has defeated Raonic and US Open finalist Nishikori, two of the much-touted next generation of rising stars, without dropping a set and will guarantee top spot in the group, which would bring the added bonus of likely avoiding a semifinal showdown with Novak Djokovic, if he beats Murray on Thursday.

Federer, who last won the Tour Finals in 2011, didn't need to be at his very best against Nishikori, who made 30 unforced errors in a sloppy effort that left him with one win from two matches, damaging his hopes of making the last four ahead of his final group fixture against Raonic.

Nishikori went on to win two of his other three meetings with Federer and had an early chance to take control at the O2 with two break points in the third game.

Federer had other ideas however and battled back to hold serve before landing the first blow himself with a blazing forehand winner to break for a 3-1 lead.

That was all the incentive Federer needed and he cruised through the rest of the first set.

Nishikori called for treatment on his right wrist in the break between sets and, although he was able to continue, there was more bad news when he gifted a break to Federer with a succession of unforced errors in the third game of the second set.

With Federer in businesslike mood there was no chance of a Nishikori comeback and his fate was sealed with a double-fault that gave the Swiss one more break and ended the contest.

Djokovic sparkles

Novak Djokovic started his bid for a third successive Tour Finals title with a sublime 6-1, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic on Monday.

Djokovic took just 57 minutes to thrash US Open champion Cilic as the world number one extended his winning run at indoor events to 28 matches, a streak that includes 11 consecutive victories at the Tour Finals.

The Serb, who has already triumphed in London at Wimbledon earlier this year, is bidding to become the first man to win the Tour Finals three times in a row since Ivan Lendl from 1985 to 1987 and he looks in the mood to do just that on the evidence of his latest masterclass.

Djokovic arrived in London in buoyant mood after celebrating the birth of his first child, a boy named Stefan, by winning the Paris Masters without dropping a set earlier this month.

He has the additional motivation of knowing if he wins all three of his group matches he will be guaranteed to hold off Roger Federer in the race to finish the year on top of the world rankings.

The 27-year-old, looking to become only the fifth player to win the Tour Finals four or more times, had won all 10 of his previous meetings with Cilic, including a five-set victory in this year's Wimbledon quarter-finals, and once again the Croatian had no way of stopping his rival.

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