Exit the old ones. The Masters, this tournament which brings together in each end of the autumn the eight best players of tennis of the season, will dedicate, Sunday, November 17th, a representative of the youth – or a relative youth.
Saturday, the veteran Roger Federer (38), lost in the semi-final in two sets (6-3, 6-4) against Stefanos Tsitsipas, 21, one of the figures of what the circuit called the "Next gen", the new generation.
Switzerland, number three worldwide, remained the only representative of the three "old" who dominated the world circuit for years: Rafael Nadal, the world number one, and Novak Djokovic, the world number two, had not passed the stage of the group stage.
Zverev or Thiem
In the final, Stefanos Tsitsipas, world number six, will find the winner of the match between the German Alexander Zverev and the Austrian Dominic Thiem, which takes place Saturday at 21 hours.
The first is 22 and has already won the Masters in 2018, for his first participation. The second is a little older, 26 years old. Finalist of the Roland-Garros tournament against Rafael Nadal, he won the Beijing tournament in early October against … Stefanos Tsitsipas.
This absence of the "Big Three" in the final phase of a tournament is less and less rare. In October, at the tournament in Shanghai (China), neither Novak Djokovic nor Roger Federer had for example access to the semi-finals, respectively eliminated by Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev (Rafael Nadal did not participate in this tournament)
The stranglehold of Tsitsipas
Faced with Roger Federer, the stranglehold of Stefanos Tsitsipas was total, or almost. The Greek did not shiver. He imposed his mark of entry, inflicting a 3-0 Swiss in a few minutes in the first set, before saving several break points a little later in this first round. The second set was tighter, Federer, after being led 4-2, coming back to 4-3, then 5-4.
"I did not crack, I stayed stable and I was very mature in my decisionssaid the Greek after the match. I'm proud of myself, the way I got hooked, my ability to stay focused on all balls. " which Federer had at his service (he saved eleven out of twelve).
Tsitsipas, who participates for the first time in the Masters, had already dropped the Swiss this year: it was in January in Australia, Melbourne, in the round of 16. In their next two games, Roger Federer took over his opponent.
This week, in London, Stefanos Tsitsipas had already dominated the Russian Daniil Medvedev, very prominent in recent months, and defending champion Alexander Zverev. Friday, while he knew himself already qualified for the semi-finals, he lost to Rafael Nadal, after a very close match.
Winner in 2018 of Next Gen, the unofficial Masters of players under 21, Tsitsipas will have the opportunity, on Sunday, to confirm its status of rising value.
Too many mistakes for Federer
Saturday, facing the Greek, Roger Federer ran constantly after the score, committing a lot of fouls (he still lost his serve from his first commitment in the second set) and managed to convert only one of the twelve balls of break it was created on the service of his opponent (against 3 out of 4 for this one)
His game appeared very far from what he had shown two days earlier when he had dominated Novak Djokovic, whom he had not beaten for four years.
"No doubts, I had my chance. I do not really know why things turned out as they turned out … I was frustrated not to play better and every time I managed to fight back, I reverted things last », said after the match Roger Federer. "I was looking on the other side of the net and I thought he was playing really well today. He took the ball very early. I knew he was doing this (…) but I must admit that he pushed me not to play at the level I was hoping for ".
The Swiss had a difficult start to the week, defeated by Dominic Thiem, and then hung up on Italy's Matteo Berrettini before winning.
For Roger Federer, which was the seventeenth participation in the Masters, there will be no seventh title in this competition.