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Kei Nishikori exits ATP Finals after defeat to Dominic Thiem

Kyodo, AP

Kei Nishikori suffered a 6-1, 6-4 defeat by Austria’s Dominic Thiem at the season-ending ATP Finals on Thursday, ending his hopes of advancing to the semifinals.

World No. 9 Nishikori succumbed to Thiem at O2 Arena after producing an upset over six-time champion Roger Federer on Sunday before losing to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson on Tuesday.

“The match was over before I could get a feel for it. Before the tournament, I was playing well but my three matches here were not so good,” said Nishikori, who was hoping to reach the ATP Finals semis for the third time in four attempts.

“There were too many unforced errors for me. . . . I think I made it really easy today. He was also playing well.”

Needing a win to have any chance of advancing from the round-robin group stage, Nishikori got off to a bad start, dropping his first service game to fall behind 3-0.

He got back on track to make it 3-1 in his second service game, but dropped his next and the set.

Nishikori was more competitive in the second set, but when he missed a chance to break with the score at 2-2, Thiem capitalized, breaking the Shimane native before closing the match out on his own serve.

The loss for Nishikori, whose season began with him making a comeback on the Challenger Tour after a long wrist-injury layoff, leaves him with a 43-win, 19-loss record on the ATP Tour and a second straight year without an ATP title.

But when asked to reflect on his season, the 28-year-old was positive, assessing his effort as “really good.”

Roger Federer is peaking at the right time — again.

The six-time champion advanced to the last four of the ATP Finals for a record-extending 15th time with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson.

Federer, chasing the 100th title of his career, needed only a set to advance and produced his best performance at the season-ending tournament to end the round-robin stages with a 2-1 win-loss record.

“I’ve always tried to pace myself in a way . . . that I would have something left in the tank,” Federer said. “I’m happy that this is another week like this. (It) didn’t look like it maybe 72 hours ago.”

Federer looked as if he was about to give up a break advantage for the second time in as many service games when he dropped to 0-40 attempting to close out the opening set at 5-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion found his first serve when it mattered most to hold.

Anderson hadn’t faced a break point in winning his first two matches. Federer, though, broke him twice more in the second set to claim top spot in the group and likely avoid a semifinal meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

“That was a little bit disappointing because I felt like I played some really good tennis so far,” Anderson said. “But the plus side is I’m through to the semis. That feels great.”