London: Roger Federer produced some exhibition tennis to beat Robin Soderling 7-6 6-3 on Thursday and become the first player through to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals.
The Swiss world number two, bidding for a record-equalling fifth title at the lucrative season-ending tournament, squandered a break of serve in the first set as Soderling forced a tiebreak but was always in control of the Group B clash.
Federer got lucky on set point when Soderling elected to leave a backhand that floated on to the line but he required no help from the Swede to close out the match.
He broke in the eighth game of the second set with a couple of classy points and completed his 15th victory in 16 encounters with Soderling in 88 minutes.
"It`s the worst feeling in the world when you leave a shot like that, you have a split second to decide, and then see it go in," Federer said of his lob winner at 6-5 in the tiebreak. "I got lucky on that shot and overall played a good match."
Federer`s third consecutive round robin victory was also good news for Britain`s Andy Murray, who should also qualify for the semi-finals unless he loses heavily to Spain`s David Ferrer later on Thursday.
Soderling, who finished his group matches with one victory against Ferrer, could still hypothetically qualify for the semis although he looked resigned to an early flight home as Federer turned on the style in the O2 Arena.