BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2011
Federer Wins Record Sixth Title At Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
by James Buddell|
Roger Federer has become the first player to win six titles at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The fourth-seeded Swiss won his 70th tour-level trophy in his 100th final on Sunday after he defeated sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3, in two hours and 19 minutes, to become the oldest titlist at the year-end championship.
The 30-year-old Federer, who won all five matches he played this week, at The O2 in London, picked up a cheque for $1,630,000 and 1,500 South African Airways ATP Rankings points. He was also year-end champion in 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2010. The victory also tied Federer with Ivan Lendl's wins record at the tournament. Lendl compiled a 39-10 mark, with five titles, while Federer is now 39-7.
"It feels very special, indeed," admitted Federer, who has a 17-match winning streak. "I've been trying to sort of block it out for the entire tournament, the entire time I've been here in London. I just tried to recuperate from Basel and Paris and hopefully get through the round robin stages. So now it's finally sort of reality that I've been able to win six [Barclays ATP] World Tour Finals. It's an amazing feeling. I know it's one of my greatest accomplishments."
It was Federer's third straight indoor trophy, after title runs at the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. Nishikori) and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (d. Tsonga) two weeks ago. He also beat Tsonga last Sunday in Group B round-robin play and finishes the year unbeaten indoors with a 16-0 mark.
"This definitely is an amazing finish again to the season," said Federer, who finishes in the year-end Top 3 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for a ninth straight season. "I've never finished so strong."
Federer, who had won the first set in his six previous year-end finals, turned up the heat on Tsonga at 4-3, when he hit three straight backhand winners to give his French opponent a headache at 0/40. Federer, who had looked second-best for much of the first set, broke serve and ultimately clinched the set in 35 minutes, despite the best efforts of Tsonga to break.
On Federer's first set point at advantage, Tsonga drew Federer to the net before ripping a backhand winner down the line. Federer then hit a forehand approach winner and on his second set point chance, Tsonga made a backhand error under pressure. Federer hit nine winners to Tsonga's 12, but took his chance in the eighth game. Tsonga, lost just five points on serve and his 12 winners, but came out second best.
Tsonga almost buckled under the pressure at 1-1 in the second set, after he hit two double faults, but he managed to salvage the game from 15/40. Two games later, however, Federer set up one more break point opportunity. Taking advantage of a second serve at 30/40, Federer ran around his backhand to lash a forehand winner down the line for a 3-2 lead.
Federer served for the title at 5-4, but a lapse in concentration saw him face three break points at 0/40. He saved two when Tsonga hit a backhand return long and a forehand into the net, but he could not win the third as Tsonga attacked the net off a forehand to strike a smash winner. In the next game, Tsonga saved one break with a powerful forehand approach, which Federer could not scramble back. The set was decided on a tie-break.
Federer took a 4-2 lead in the tie-break courtesy of a forehand volley, after both players made edgy starts. He then hit a drive volley winner for a three-point cushion. But Tsonga came back by winning three straight points, until Federer's sixth ace of the match took him to his first match point chance at 6-5. Tsonga kept his nerve and fired a mid-court forehand for a winner, then hit an unreturned serve for his first set point opportunity at 7-6. Tsonga jumped all over Federer's second serve, hammering a forehand return to the Swiss' feet. Tsonga hit 18 winners in the set and won 10 of his 15 net points.
The quality of tennis in the deciding set improved with every game. Tsonga came through hold for 3-3, with his never-say-die brand of tennis, when he hit three forehand winners, while Federer continued to clinch routine service holds.
The pressure, of serving second in the set, looked to weigh heavily on Tsonga's shoulders at 3-4. He fought back from 0/30 with three straight points, but then committed two forehand errors to gift Federer a break point opportunity. Tsonga saved it by following a forehand to the net and hitting a volley winner. Two points later, facing break point again, he came to the net and executed a perfect back cross-court angle that left Federer motionless. Federer made it third time lucky for a 5-3 lead, when Tsonga over-balanced while running for a forehand that he hit wide.
Federer closed out his 64th match win of the season (64-12 overall) with a hold to love, finishing with a forehand volley winner, and leapt in the air in celebration. He has a 6-1 record in year-end finals, losing only to David Nalbandian in the 2005 title match. This year, he became the event's oldest titlist - Ilie Nastase was 29 when he won in 1975.
"I thought I played well," said Federer. "Look, I thought Jo played well. Could I have won it easier? I guess. I had it in my hands. I had a chance to go a double break in the second [set]. I had chances to serve it out. I had chances in the tie-breaker. Yeah, it wasn't meant to be. I had to go through the third set, which was tough, but eventually I made it, which felt probably even better going through three sets. The relief was amazing. The joy, of course, as you can imagine, was great."
Tsonga, 26, was attempting to become the first Frenchman to win the title. He hit 42 aces this week and has struck an ATP World Tour season-best 825 aces, ahead of John Isner's 811. Tsonga received prize money of $740,000 and 800 points as runner-up.
"Today I fought all I can," said Tsonga. "I'm just happy tonight because I had a good week. Of course, to win is better but I gave everything. Tonight I can look [at] myself in the mirror and say, 'Yeah, you fought enough.'
"They [the crowd] supported me a lot. "It was really fair from the English crowd. He was better than me in the first set. Also in the second set. But I took the first set point in the tie-break."
Tsonga finished the season with a 55-24 match record (27-17 in tie-breaks). He won two ATP World Tour titles at the Moselle Open in Metz (d. Ljubicic) and the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. del Potro). The Frenchman was also runner-up at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. to Soderling), the AEGON Championships at The Queen's Club (l. to Murray) and the Rogers Cup in Montreal (l. to Djokovic).
The evening final was watched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, among other well known names, in a capacity 17,500-strong crowd.
800-MATCH WINS CLUB – Federer is now in fifth place on the Open Era list (since 1968) for most match wins, having overtaken his childhood idol Stefan Edberg (806) with victory over Tsonga on Sunday.
|1) Jimmy Connors (USA)||1,242|
|2) Ivan Lendl (CZE/USA)||1,071|
|3) Guillermo Vilas (ARG)||923|
|4) John McEnroe (USA)||875|
|5) Andre Agassi (USA)||870|
|6) Roger Federer (SUI)||807|