An angry Roger Federer took aim at umpire Damian Steiner after a tough day at the office against Kei Nishikori.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was nowhere near his best as he went down 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to the Japanese No. 1. This is Federer’s first straight sets defeat in the round robin stage at the ATP Finals.
On court, the 37-year-old Swiss clashed with Steiner after he was handed a code violation for thumping the ball into the crowd. He later told the chair umpire that ‘we don’t understand each other today’ after a disagreement over a challenge at the start of the second set.
Federer – who has lost his last five matches against top-10 opposition – aimed a dig in Steiner’s direction after rushing to his post-match press conference following defeat.
Asked if he was unhappy with the initial line call, he sniped: ‘Yeah, I was, just because I thought what was his argument, you know, why the warning.
‘But nothing more than that. He thought I was angry. I wasn’t. Now I’m angry because I lost, but I wasn’t, so…
‘He knows me very well apparently, or he thought so.’
Reflecting on the match itself, he added: ‘Well, I felt we both struggled, you know, throughout the first set. You could tell it was sort of a first round.
‘I had my chances maybe a bit more than he did. Yeah, then I started to feel better in the second set. I think we both did. The level went up.
‘Yeah, unfortunately I couldn’t keep the lead that I got early. That was important, I think, at the end.
‘That was the key of the match, that sort of I guess 10-minute swing at the end of the first throughout maybe 1-all in the second. Maybe being the leader rather than being down so…’
Federer will take on Dominic Thiem in his second Group Lleyton Hewitt match on 13 November after the Austrian was defeated by Kevin Anderson earlier on 11 November.