Roger Federer needed to beat David Ferrer to automatically advance to the semifinals of the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals. It was never easy and far from his best performance, but Federer managed to accomplish the feat.
Federer took control early in the match and never looked back, toughing out a 6-4, 7-6 victory. The win makes Federer the first player to qualify for the semifinals.
Throughout the match, Federer showed great resiliency in battling past not only Ferrer but himself. He had 39 unforced errors and his serve wasn't great, yet he consistently resisted being broken by Ferrer, who certainly deserves high marks for his effort in this match.
Of course, it should come as little surprise that Federer pulled off the win—he's now beaten Ferrer 14 straight times.
Federer looked the better player early in the match, breaking Ferrer in the second game and taking a 3-0 lead. But Ferrer would respond in the fifth game after holding his serve, breaking Federer and holding serve a second time to even the match at 3-3.
The two would hold serve over the next three games before Federer stepped up again, breaking Ferrer to win the first set 6-4 despite Ferrer recovering from a shaky start and playing some fantastic tennis down the stretch of the set.
The second set got even better. Federer fought off two break points and would win the deuce on the first game. Serve would hold until the fourth game, when Federer threatened Ferrer with a break point of his own. But it wasn't to be—Ferrer fought him off and evened the match, 2-2.
From there, despite furious and dizzying efforts by each man, service was held and the match went to a tiebreaker at 6-6.
There, Federer was finally able to put Ferrer away and win the match. Tim Henman of BBC Sport remarked on the somewhat remarkable nature of Federer's tiebreaker efforts, noting, "We talked about how poorly Roger Federer had served during the match, and then in the tie break, he comes up with five consecutive first serves—two aces, two unreturnable. I've seen this film before."
Federer may have won in straight sets, but this was an extremely competitive match that just as easily could have gone to Ferrer. Federer deserves credit for holding him off and overcoming some poor play of his own to get a key victory.
His next match is against Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday, but the result won't affect his berth in the semifinals in this round-robin tournament.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.