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Federer maintains unbeaten run

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Originally published on: 20/11/11 17:15

In a repeat of last week’s final in Paris, which Federer won in straight sets, the 16-time Grand Slam champ was pushed all the way by a typically-spirited Tsonga performance.

The defending champ, who got off to a stunning start taking the first set 6-2 in only 21 minutes, faltered at the beginning of the second set allowing Tsonga to break twice, leveling the match at one set all.

“Jo-Wilfried served well in the second set and it was hard to control the rallies at the baseline,” Federer said. “But I think this is the best I’ve played all year. It helped that I had some good time off before playing great at Basel and Paris.”

Tsonga admitted after the match, “I started to play better. I think he (Federer) was surprised because I played so bad in the first set.”

The third set was looking like going the distance until 5-4 when a couple of sublime shots by Federer set him up for the break of serve, which he duly converted, to take the deciding set 6-4.

“He (Tsonga) did well to serve bigger and better as the match went on. Once he got the upper hand in the second set he started to swing more freely and got more dangerous,” said Federer, who stretched his recent unbeaten run to 13 games.

“It (the surface) feels faster, for some reason because we’re coming from a slower Paris,” said the five-time ATP Finals champion. “Whereas last year Paris was lightening (fast) so you felt this was slow… I’m not sure if there’s a bit more bounce this year to last year.”

The match was played in front of a near full stadium and when it ended after one hour and 28 minutes, Federer continued to please the crowd taking time to sign autographs as he left the court. He also had current New York Red Bulls player Thierry Henry in his box for support. “We are good friends,” said Federer of their relationship. “We missed each other in New York even though we were both there so it was nice to catch up with him.”

One of the happiest spectators at the afternoon session must have been the one who got Rafa’s autograph as he left the Federer/Tsonga match. The Spaniard had crept in, certainly not un-noticed but not via the player entrance, watched the final game, applauded both players and then left the court speedily as the match ended. This was a nice touch at the start of what feels like will be a great week.

Both Federer and Tsonga will now enjoy a day’s rest before they return to play in east London on Tuesday.

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