LONDON — Even when Roger Federer had the lead, Novak Djokovic had the answers.
The top-ranked Serb recovered from early breaks in both sets and beat Federer 7-6 (6), 7-5 Monday in the championship match at the ATP finals.
Federer broke Djokovic’s serve to take a quick 2-0 lead in the first set, and then again to open to the second, but both times the world’s No. 1 player rebounded to get back into the match.
“It’s not the first time that Roger starts against me so well,” Djokovic said. “I’ve experienced before his aggressivity, really trying to put his mark on the match. It’s what he’s done again.”
Federer indeed started well, winning the opening nine points and 12 of the first 14 to take a 3-0 lead. He then won the first point of the fourth game, but Djokovic finally held his serve – and soon broke back.
In the ninth game, Djokovic broke again to serve for the set at 5-4, but Federer evened the score and forced the tiebreaker.
“Maybe a bit of regret because I had the lead twice first before him,” said Federer, the two-time defending champion. “At the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. You have to get over the finish line in the set and then obviously at the match. He was better at that today.”
The crowd at O2 Arena was decidedly in Federer’s favor, but they cheered loudly throughout the match as both made spectacular shots, including a match-ending backhand passing winner from Djokovic.
“It’s best way to finish the match, I guess, with a passing shot, one of my favorite shots,” Djokovic said. “He came in. That was the only space left for me to make a passing shot, and I made it.”
It was Djokovic’s second win at the year-end tournament for the top eight players in the world. He also won in 2008, when the event was in Shanghai.
Federer, who is now 15-3 in Britain this year after winning his seventh Wimbledon title and the Olympic silver medal, had been looking for his record seventh title.
And he came close to winning it.
Both players finished the match winning 58 percent of their service points and 42 percent of their return points. Overall, Djokovic won only one more point in the match, getting 96 to Federer’s 95.
Djokovic came into the ATP finals knowing he would end up as the No. 1 player in the world for the second straight year. He backed it up with a victory in London.
“It’s been a very long year, a very long two years, but very successful two years,” said Djokovic, who won the Australian Open at the beginning of this season after claiming three major titles in 2011.
‘’I actually feel even more satisfied right now than last year, even though I had an incredible 2011. I feel this year, considering the circumstances that I had to face on and off the court, expectations, all these things, I believe that this year has been even more successful for me.”