Federer cruised past Jack Sock on Sunday in the opening singles match of the tournament, relishing the surface which has been quickened since last year.
And thanks to Sock’s comeback victory against Marin Cilic earlier today, the Swiss can reach a record 14th ATP World Tour Finals last four with a win over the German.
The 20-year-old meanwhile could not achieve a simlar fate with a win as he still has to play the 1-1 American on Thursday in a match that will likely be a de facto quarter-final.
But Zverev would nevertheless relish beating Federer as a standalone result – the victory would give him a 3-2 head-to-head record over the Swiss world No 2.
Federer vs Zverev LIVE
(* denotes next to serve)
Federer 7-6, 2-0 Zverev*
A Federer hold to love. He has won 16 of the last 19 points. Zverev sinking fast.
*Federer 7-6, 1-0 Zverev
Uh oh. Federer has put his foot down and all of a sudden he has three break points after a Zverev double-fault, of which he only needs two to put himself firmly in the driving seat.
ROGER FEDERER WINS THE FIRST SET 7-6
Zverev takes an early 4-0 lead thanks to an error on each wing from Federer and an ace that clips the smallest part of the line possible.
A big Roger serve gets him on the board and a fierce exchange of groundstrokes sees Zverev find the net first. 4-2 Zverev at the change of ends.
Federer gets parity back after the change and holds his two points to make it five on the spin…but can’t convert when he gets a good look at the Zverev second serve, drawing a big “let’s go” from the German. A forehand from Federer after getting into a Zverev service point goes wide to bring up the first set point but it’s into the net. 6-6.
Two more unforced errors and that is game and first set Federer. Zverev through that away.
*Federer 6-6 Zverev
There is a definite grumpiness to Roger with his own performance at the moment but he will be perked up by a net cord that Zverev runs down but eventually gives Federer a sniff at 30-30.
He is inches away from a set point with a backhand down the line but he does force deuce with a special one across the court. No idea where that angle came from.
Zverev then pings a backhand long to give Roger set point…but they trade backhands and this time the youngster is the winner.
At deuce, a simply stunning rally sees Zverev somehow keep the point alive with Federer at the net sending him one and another. The ball clips the line but Zverev though it was in, celebrating as though it was! He challenges unsuccessfully and then saves the resulting set point with a stone-dead net cord. 1-1 on that front. A first serve and a mis-hit Federer backhand later and it’s a tie-break.
Federer 6-5 Zverev*
Federer is quickly 30-0 up but then fails to pick up a delicate half-volley before getting out-rallied by Zverev to make it 30-30.
The 20-year-old thinks he’s in another point when he pings the forehand return, only to see the senior man on court punch the ball down the line.
Zverev is in control of the next rally though, before losing patience and netting an ambitious drop shot.
*Federer 5-5 Zverev
Zverev gets caught betwixt and between the service line and baseline in the opening point but then frustrates the heck of Federer with three unreturnable serves.
However, a brain fade from Zverev, chipping a ball straight into Roger’s overhead, gives the Swiss a sniff at 40-30…before the German serves another ace.
Federer 5-4 Zverev*
Serve-and-volley central for Roger, who pulls the tactic twice before relying on two big first serves to complete the love hold. Less than half an hour gone and we’re into game 10.
*Federer 4-4 Zverev
Not Roger’s best game as Zverev starts with an ace but then nets a couple of makable groundstrokes and punches a backhand passing shot wide.
Good, positive shot-making from the youngster though, mixing things up where possible.
Federer 4-3 Zverev*
Federer almost follows suit with a love hold of his own but takes a ball low on the volley six feet inside the baseline and flies it long. But the next serve is right on the money and Zverev can only loop it miles long.
*Federer 3-3 Zverev
Zverev holds to love. The serve is starting to function now.
Federer 3-2 Zverev*
Now we’re starting to find some range! Zverev wins the longest rally of the match with a backhand that just SOUNDS different from his others, so clean is the strike.
Federer then skips round a ball to play his signature forehand – only the flay it wide but he hits a classic ace out wide to the ad court to make it 30-30.
Some superb movement from Federer then keeps him in a high-powered rally and he gives it the first “come on” when Zverev goes long, which he does again next point to secure the hold.
*Federer 2-2 Zverev
Zverev really trying to play into Federer’s backhand where possible and two errors on that wing end the game.
Both players taking a bit of time to settle into this match.
Federer 2-1 Zverev*
Federer holds to love in emphatic style, sealing things with an ace. Jack Sock failed to create a single break point opportunity on Sunday and you wonder if Zverev will regret missing out on three in the opening game.
*Federer 1-1 Zverev
Zverev finds himself in a spot of bother after double-faulting his very first serves but recovers from 0-30 thanks to a 134mph unreturned serve and a generous piece of net tape carrying a Federer pass long.
But at 40-30 he racks up yet another unforced error, too many already really and he soon faces his first break point of the match…which he saves with his first ace. Another one, this time at 135mph gives him game point and Federer can only chip the last first serve (137mph) back for an easy smash.
Federer 1-0 Zverev*
Zverev marks the first card with a forehand winner before an uncharacteristic netted volley from Federer, followed by a forehand into the same part of the net. Three break points, the first of which is saved by an ace down the middle and the second when Zverev creams a second serve into the net. Another excellent serve down the T gets him to deuce and two points later, Federer is out of jail.
8.10pm: Two minutes to go. Federer to serve first…
8.05pm: Anyone who thinks Nadal and Federer are equally popular in London wasn’t here last night and tonight. The Swiss sends the crowd mental by simply walking out. Superb atmosphere.
7.55pm: Right then, Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus have wrapped up their place in the doubles semi-finals which means Federer and Zverev will be out on court in just a few moments.
Meanwhile, David Bowie’s “Heroes” blares out on the sound system which is, and I’ve said it before, exceptionally loud. I think that’s supposed to make it more fun?
7.45pm: With Rafael Nadal sitting in a hotel somewhere with his knee on ice, this tournament is supposed to be Federer’s to lose.
The six-time ATP World Tour Finals champion looks comfortable, composed and powerful on court at the moment and is an overwhelming favourite to add a seventh crown.
However, Zverev is not to be underestimated. He’s beaten Federer twice in his career, once on the grass of Halle and once in Montreal, although that came when the Swiss was obviously hampered by a back problem.
They should be walking out at 8pm for a start at around 8.15pm.