On this day, 6 years ago, Roger Federer claimed his 6th and so far the last ATP Finals title, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by 6-3 6-7 6-3 in 2 hours and 19 minutes. Not only he passed Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras, who stayed on 5 ATP Finals crowns, Roger also became the 4th player with 70 titles in the Open era, after Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and John McEnroe. Federer and Tsonga met for the 3rd straight Sunday, which is very unusual, and this was their 8th match of the season, which was also a record.
15 days earlier, Swiss and the Frenchman played in the final of Paris Masters, and Roger won that one by 6-1 7-6. 7 days later, they opened the ATP Finals round robin action and Federer prevailed by 6-2 2-6 6-4 before they both reached the final to be engaged in another entertaining encounter.
Despite losing a set, Roger had the upper hand in the final, playing better on both serve and return and getting broken just once. On the other hand, Tsonga gave his best to stay in touch, saving 6 out of 9 break points and breaking Roger in the 10th game of the second set when Swiss served for the win.
He also saved a match point in the tie break to force a deciding set, where he lost serve once to end on the losing side. Tsonga had more winners but also more unforced errors, although he toppled Federer in the longer points.
On the other hand, Roger was more effective in the shortest and mid-range points to create the necessary advantage that led him towards the title. As was expected, it was a heavyweight contest between two of the finest indoor players on the Tour, and they held without troubles in the first 7 games.
It all changed in the 8th game when Roger hit 3 good backhands down the line to create 3 break points, and he broke at love after a huge volley error from Tsonga at the net. After 2 deuces in game 9, Federer closed the set after forcing an error from his opponent, clinching the opener by 6-3 in 35 minutes.
Jo had to dig deep in the third game of the second set, saving 2 break points with aces to remain in front, but Roger got the break next time around with a forehand return winner, moving 3-2 in front. His lead soon became even bigger, holding with ease in the 6th game to forge a 4-2 gap, and it seemed he was marching towards the title.
Tsonga lost the ground completely in the last 15 minutes and he was forced to play against another break point in game 7, saving it with a backhand drop shot winner and bringing the game home with 2 service winners, reducing his deficit to 4-3.
Roger was still pushing strong in his games and he moved a game away from the finish line when he held in game 8, forcing Tsonga to serve to stay in the match. Jo did a good job but he now had to score a break if he wanted to prolong the match, and that wasn't an easy task when we know he had no break points since the start of the match.
Out of sudden, he found himself 40-0 in front and he converted his third break chance with a smash at the net, leveling the score at 5-5 and receiving the necessary fuel before the rest of the match. Roger earned a break point in game 11 that could give him the edge again, but Jo saved it with a brave forehand winner and they both served well in the remaining points to set up a tie break.
Frenchman netted an easy forehand to send Roger 3-1 in front and he hit 2 winners to increase the lead to 5-2, leaving Jo with no room for errors. Lower-ranked player kept his focus and he grabbed the next 3 points to climb back to 5-5, but Roger blasted an ace to earn the match point.
Tsonga refused to surrender, hitting a forehand winner to repel it, and a service winner gave him a set point at 7-6. He seized it with an amazing return and after an hour and 37 minutes the match was heading towards the deciding set, with the momentum on the Frenchman's side.
He increased the power of his groundstrokes in set number 2, keeping the points on his racquet and attacking the net more than Roger, and he was rewarded in the end, keeping his chances of winning the biggest title of his career alive.
That wasted match point had not left a mark on Roger, who served well in set number 3 despite the fact he struggled to find the first serve. In the 8th game, he was ready to make some damage on the return, and he created a break point after a huge forehand error from Tsonga at the net.
Frenchman closed the door with a nice serve&volley combo, and he fends off another break point with a touchy volley winner. Roger stayed in the game and he finally converted his 3rd break chance, forcing an error from his rival to move 5-3 in front, serving for the match in the following game.
Unlike in the second set, Federer did nothing wrong this time around, hitting 3 winners for 3 championship points, and he converted the first one to defend the title won 12 months earlier and conquer his 6th ATP Finals crown in the last 9 years.
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