After winning two Grand Slam and two Masters 1000 titles in 2009, Roger Federer made the perfect start of his 2010 campaign with the title in Melbourne, holding three out of four Major crowns and keeping the no. 1 position in the rankings until June.
Still, his results after the Australian Open were not that good, losing a lot of points in Paris and London where he failed to defend the titles, allowing Rafael Nadal to take the throne and keep it until the end of the season.
Tomas Berdych defeated Roger in the quarter-final of Wimbledon to take massive points away from the Swiss but Federer was the player to beat in the rest of the season, winning 34 of the remaining 38 encounters until the end of the year and reaching six finals in eight tournaments, enough to conquer four titles.
Roger saved the best for last, recovering from that crazy Paris semi-final defeat to Monfils and capturing his fifth ATP Finals crown after a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over his greatest rival Rafael Nadal in an hour and 38 minutes on November 28.
It was only their second meeting of the season and the eighth win for Roger in 22 meetings with the Spaniard, the third at the ATP Finals in as many clashes. Federer was the player to beat that week and his title was never in doubt despite losing a set against Rafa, overpowering world no.
1 in the third set to claim the title and finish the season on a high note and with the fifth ATP Finals trophy in his hands. Nadal served at 77% and gave his best to stay in touch with the more superior indoor player, creating two break chances and seizing one in set number two.
On the other hand, Roger was untouchable behind his first serve (37 from 40 points won), converting all three break opportunities to create the crucial difference in the deciding set and cross the finish line first. The Swiss made more unforced errors but also three times more winners than his rival, keeping the points on his racquet and avoiding long rallies and the opportunity for Rafa to expose his backhand.
Federer had the edge in the shortest points up to four strokes thanks to his initial shot and the first groundstroke, toppling Rafa in the mid-range exchanges as he stood ready to fight from the baseline and construct the points in the best possible way.
The match kicked off in a big way for the Swiss, hitting four winners in the opening game before a solid respond from Nadal who also held at love to level the score at 1-1 in his very first ATP Finals title match. Roger's forehand worked like a charm from the very first point, delivering another comfortable hold in game three after finding his range and keeping Nadal far from the ball.
Four more winners in game five sent Federer 3-2 up in less than 15 minutes and this was the pace that suited his game more, especially if he would find something on the return. That didn't happen in game six after another good hold from Rafa who created a small chance on the return in the next game before Roger hit some marvelous volleys and forehands to grab four points in a row and avoid break chances.
Nadal wasted a game point at 3-4 and Roger landed a perfect backhand crosscourt winner to secure the first break of the match, moving 5-3 up and serving for the set in the next game. It was undoubtedly one of the best sets that Roger played against Rafa, sealing it with three winners in game nine for a 6-3 after just 32 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two.
Nadal raised his level in set number two, breaking Federer in the fourth game after a colossal forehand error from the Swiss and cementing the lead with an excellent hold in game five for a 4-1. Controlling the pace and the rallies, Rafa grabbed the set 6-3 with that single break, serving at 80% and taking the advantage of that loose service game from Roger who landed only 42% of the first serve in, losing the edge with his forehand and having to find it again in the decider if he wanted to win the first title at this event since 2007.
Nadal was much more aggressive in comparison to the opening set and had to do the same in the third to prevail and lift his first trophy at this level. Instead of that, Federer was the one who found his rhythm again, landing one good serve after another and winning four points in a row on the return in game four to move 3-1 in front, firing two service winners at deuce in the next game to cement the advantage and move closer to the finish line.
The Spaniard faded from the court and suffered another break in game six, allowing Roger to seal the deal with three winners in the next game to celebrate his fifth ATP Finals crown, joining Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras on the special list and wrapping up the season in the best possible way.