“Important was not about my forehand or my backhand or my serve or anything. I guess it was my head. For that sometimes you need a break.”
It certainly worked, the 20-time Grand Slam champion broke Austrian Dominic Thiem four times, without facing a break point himself, to collect a commanding 6-2, 6-3 triumph.
“For me it was really important to remind myself what a thrill it is to play here at the O2. I love playing in London, always have, always will. It is my 16th year qualifying, so sometimes it's just another match. I think that's maybe what happened to me, and in a very disappointing way,” admitted Federer.
“Today, when highlights were showing from the last 10 years here at the O2, I really reminded myself again what a pleasure and what a privilege it is to play in this arena. There's no reason to get that negative. The tournament has only just started.”
Familiar foe Kevin Anderson awaits a revitalised Federer next, with both semi-finals tickets still available from Group Lleyton Hewitt.
The head-to-head favours Federer 4-1, however the South African pulled off an astonishing comeback from two sets and match point down in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“I don't think I'll go into the match thinking too much of it. I think I have enough things to focus on from my own side, from my own game, to make sure I play a good match against him here in the next match,” added Federer.
“I'm really excited to get a chance to play him again, he has had a wonderful season. I've played well against him in the past. I hope I can reproduce something like that.”
The earlier contest on Thursday of Nishikori v Thiem will determine the permutations for Anderson and Federer in the evening’s singles play in order to book a semi-final berth. The maths could be complicated, so a straight-sets scoreline will certainly boost any challenge.