Roger Federer saved four match points before securing a dramatic 4-6 7-5 7-6(6) win against Stan Wawrinka to book a showdown with Novak Djokovic for the World Tour Finals title.
The world No.2 came from a set down to win a third-set tie-breaker against the man he will line up alongside for Switzerland in next weekend’s Davis Cup final.
At two hours and 48 minutes, it was by far the longest match at the tournament and just the fourth to go to three sets.
“I think I’m very lucky tonight,” said Federer. “Stan played better from the baseline. I kept believing, kept fighting. He did all the right things, it was tough. But I’m thrilled to be in another final here in London.
“I’ve saved a lot of break points, match points in the last few months. I thought, let’s try to do it one more time. I feel very lucky to be doing this interview right now.
“He [Djokovic] looks great, he’s playing fantastic. It was a great match against Kei [Nishikori]. He brings the best out of me. I hope I can do the same.”
Federer, featuring in a record-equalling 12th semi-final at the event, had saved all seven break points he had faced this week, however, Wawrinka managed to break him not once but twice for a 5-2 lead in the first.
The world No.2 pulled one break back, but Wawrinka held serve to close out the set in 35 minutes.
Wawrinka then managed to save three break points to keep the second set on serve at 3-3, though, serving to stay in it, he dumped a simple overhead into the net to gift Federer three set points. Federer duly took his first with Wawrinka planting a backhand into the net.
Federer, bidding for a ninth final at the event, was immediately broken to love in the decider, though, having remonstrated with the umpire at 0-40 after claiming he didn’t hear an overrule so challenged too late.
Wawrinka then denied Federer by saving two break points and going 5-3 up to close in on victory. A dramatic next game saw Federer save three match points before taking his second break point to stay in the match, with the O2 Arena erupting.
The drama didn’t end there. Federer was then forced to save two break points before going 6-5 ahead, with Wawrinka holding to ensure a tie-breaker.
Federer raced into a 2-0 lead before Wawrinka battled back to lead 6-5. However, Federer saved match point again before bringing up his first, taking the tie-breaker 8-6 to secure the win.