Federer started the match with the same kind of ruthless efficiency that helped him beat Rafael Nadal in just one hour Tuesday, chasing Fish all over the court with his forehand and breaking three times in the first set.
But Federer’s accuracy and energy levels dropped in the second, when he started spraying his backhand into the net to let Fish back into the match. The American, looking to leave London with a consolation victory after losing his first two round-robin matches in his debut appearance at the event, raced to a 5-2 lead and served out the set when Federer netted a backhand.
But Federer immediately took control of the deciding set, breaking for a 2-0 lead with a forehand passing shot. The fourth-seeded Federer lost only two points on his serve the rest of the way.
“He really started to zone in on many shots” in the second set, Federer said. “I thought he was able to keep that up in the third set. So I was happy to get the crucial break early in the third and maybe cruise a bit more.”
Federer had already clinched a spot in the semifinals, while Fish had already been eliminated.
Federer improved his unbeaten streak to 15 consecutive matches after winning titles in Basel and Paris. The 16-time Grand Slam winner is the defending champion in London and is looking for a record sixth title at the season-ending event for the world’s top eight players, and his 70th overall.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga qualified for the semifinals at the expense of the second-ranked Nadal, winning 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 to join Federer in the last four.
Nadal – who suffered his worst loss ever to Federer in a 6-3, 6-0 defeat Tuesday – then acknowledged that his motivation and desire has been lacking since losing the U.S. Open final to Novak Djokovic in September.
Nadal hasn’t won a title since then, losing his only final to Andy Murray in Tokyo.
“I was little bit less passionate for the game probably, because I was a little bit more tired than usual,” Nadal said. “To compete I wasn’t in the right way.”