Federer outclasses Murray to set up clash
Roger Federer provided an emphatic reminder that he will be chasing more major titles next year with a vintage display to outclass Britain's Andy Murray on Sunday and set up a season-ending blockbuster with Novak Djokovic.
The Swiss 17-times grand slam champion, who will turn 32 next year, continued his dominance of the ATP World Tour Finals with a 7-6 6-2 victory over the man who deprived him of Olympic singles gold at Wimbledon.
In his eighth final in 11 years at the ATP's blue-riband tournament, Federer will face world number one Djokovic after the Serb's granite-like defences helped repel the brute force of Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro for a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory.
Murray, who bounced back to win Olympic gold and then the US Open after the heartache of losing to Federer in this year's Wimbledon final, made a lightning start, breaking in the opening game, but ultimately played second fiddle to the master.
Federer admits he relishes stealing the spotlight, after the world number two enjoyed huge support from the British crowd during his semi-final victory over Murray.
While British number one Murray was supposed to be the home fans' favourite at the season-ending event, it was Federer who raised the biggest cheers from the audience in south-east London.
Federer has long been popular with fans in the UK after enjoying so much success at Wimbledon.
And the 31-year-old insists he wasn't surprised with the level of backing he received when taking on Murray. "We have played here twice before and both times the crowds were amazing, electric and sometimes even in my favour," Federer said.
"You can't expect them all to be cheering for you if you're playing Andy Murray here in his country. But I do respect their support and don't take it for granted. It's very special.
"I do have amazing crowd support all around the world, not just here in England where I probably achieved some of the greatest moments in my life.
"I always get a lot of support. It's been a long time since I didn't get any support, let's put it that way. I don't remember the last time.
"I guess I've been in the game for so long, I do have many people who just enjoy watching me play or feel like it's a throwback to the times when they used to play with one-handed backhands, and they like me because of those things."
Federer edged an hour-long first set after an exemplary tiebreak and then turned on the style in the second to move one victory away from winning a hat-trick of titles at the Thames-side arena that has been hosting the championships since 2009.
"I love playing Novak," Federer said, looking ahead to Monday's final. "I think for both of us, it's pretty straightforward. I think we've got to press out the last juice that's left in our body and make it a successful year end."
Like Federer, Djokovic also found himself initially overpowered by the wrist-bending forehand of the towering Del Potro but came through what he described as a "crisis" to ultimately romp to victory and stay on course for the $1.76m jackpot for an undefeated champion.
The 25-year-old, the only player in the eight-man event to win all three round-robin matches, was a set and break down but once again showed the warrior-like qualities that have enabled him to end a second consecutive year as world number one.