Federer nets record sixth Finals crown
Originally published on: 30/11/11 16:43
Roger Federer clinched a record-breaking sixth title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after battling past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets at London’s O2 Arena.
Surpassing Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras, who both won the year-end title on five occasions, Federer recorded a 6-3 6-7(6) 6-3 victory to beat the Frenchman for the third successive Sunday.
The win represents a 70th career title for the Swiss, who roared with delight after claiming victory in two hours and 18 minutes.
“I couldn’t be more happy and I couldn’t be more tired,” said Federer after raising the title. “Jo sucked every last energy out of me today. I couldn’t be any more happy that the season ends this way.”
Both men had excellent indoor form coming into the London showpiece. Tsonga had won indoor titles in Metz and Vienna in recent months, while Federer had beaten the 25 year old in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters a fortnight earlier. But it was Federer who made the first move in their 10th career meeting.
In the seventh game, the Swiss polished off a sublime backhand pass to set up three break points at 0-40 and there was no beating about the bush as Federer converted on his first opportunity when Tsonga tried a drop volley at the net that failed to clear the tape.
The 30 year old had to endure several deuces to avoid an immediate break back, but he rode out the pressure and held to clinch the opener.
Tsonga, who had surpassed John Isner’s 811 aces for the season during his semi-final victory over Tomas Berdych, struggled to get his overhead firing and double faulted twice in the third game, before netting a backhand volley to hand Federer two break points.
This time, the Frenchman avoided trouble, firing two massive serves – the second a 134mph ace – to stay on serve.
On his next service game, however, Federer put Tsonga to the sword, capturing his chance to break at 30-40 by punching a winning forehand return to secure a 3-2 lead.
He held for 4-2 in a game that included some nifty footwork between points as he flicked the ball back over the net in a manner that the watching Christiano Ronaldo would have been proud of.
Tsonga promptly kicked the ball back over to Federer’s side and, riled at facing down defeat, the Frenchman continued his struggle to find the soft hands that had taken him into the final. He threw in another double fault to start his next service game and had to see off yet another break point to stay in it at 3-4.
The damage had appeared done when Federer held to 15 to bring up 5-3, and the Swiss looked sure to serve out the match on his next serivce game. But therein lies the beauty of the sport, and Tsonga threw out the form book, pulled up three break points and slashed away a volley at the net on the third to peg the score back to 5-5.
In the ensuing tiebreak, Tsonga continued the fight by recovering from a 5-2 deficit and ultimately saving a championship point. First, he fired a huge forehand winner on set point to get back level and then after gaining the lead, he did it again to force a third set.
But the third, despite some tight early exchanges, was ultimately to go Roger’s way. The Swiss swung the match in an epic eighth game when he rallied hard to break Tsonga, and once he had, he glided through the next game, serving out victory to love.
“I want to congratulate Roger. It’s three [defeats] in a row for me so it’s a bit tough,” said Tsonga, who turned to Federer and added: “Without you, I could maybe get the titles, but you are here and you are the best.”