Federer advances to record-extending 15th ATP Finals semi

Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates winning over Kei Nishikori of Japan, during their Men's Singles match at the ATP Finals at The O2 Arena in London, Thursday Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)
Switzerland's Roger Federer gestures during his ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match against South Africa's Kevin Anderson at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)
Switzerland's Roger Federer plays a return to South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson plays a return to Switzerland's Roger Federer during their ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)
Japan's Kei Nishikori returns a shot to Austria's Dominic Thiem, during the ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)
South Africa's Kevin Anderson plays a return to Switzerland's Roger Federer during their ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match at the O2 arena in London, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (John Walton/PA via AP)

LONDON — Roger Federer advanced to the last four of the ATP Finals for a record-extending 15th time with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday.

Six-time champion Federer needed only a set to advance and produced his best performance at the season-ending tournament to end the round-robin stages with a 2-1 win-loss record.

Dominic Thiem's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori earlier had left Federer with a modest task and ensured that Anderson became the first South African ever to reach the semifinals.

Federer looked as if he was about to give up a break advantage for the second time in as many service games when he dropped to 0-40 attempting to close out the opening set at 5-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion found his first serve when it mattered most to hold.

Anderson hadn't faced a break point in winning his first two matches. Federer, though, broke him twice more in the second set to claim top spot in the group and avoid a potential semifinal meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

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