A razor-sharp Roger Federer got back to winning ways at the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Thursday to keep his last-four chances alive.
Under pressure after losing to favourite Novak Djokovic in his opening Group B match, the six-times former champion looked much more like his old majestic self.
Despite losing the opening six points of the match the 17-times Grand Slam champion quickly found his stride and forged ahead with the first break of the match in the third game when Gasquet misfired a forehand into the net.
Treating the large Swiss contingent in the sell-out crowd to some silky drop shots and his usual array of flowing passes, the 32-year-old world number seven toyed with Gasquet at times yet lost his focus when the Frenchman hit back to level at 4-4.
Gasquet was quickly put back in his place as Federer broke again to lead 5-4 and served out the set.
Gasquet, who also lost his opening match to Juan Martin del Potro, surrendered his serve at the start of the second set as the high-tempo match threatened to race away from him.
To his credit the US Open semi-finalist began to assert himself and Federer had to dig himself out of trouble in three successive service game as Gasquet began to unload some ferocious backhands.
Gasquet looked poised to level at 4-4 when a blistering return had Federer clambering at the baseline but he could only watch in admiration as a backhand top-spin lob arched over him as yet another break point went begging.
That proved to be his last chance as Federer pounced in the following game, breaking some dogged French resistance to convert his sixth match point.
Thursday's late singles features defending champion Djokovic against Del Potro.
Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates victory in his men's singles match against Richard Gasquet of France during day four of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena in London, England.
Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images