Roger Federer is coming on strong once again late in the season. Today, playing some of his best tennis of the year, Federer all but blanked Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-3 to advance to his first final appearance at the Paris Indoors.
“The way I played today was really nice,” said Federer. “And then on top of that, getting the 800th win and today making my first [Paris] final and being the first player to do all of those nine Masters 1000.
“I thought the match was tough. I took advantage of Tomas being a touch slow maybe in the first couple of games, because once that machine is warmed up he’s a very dangerous player. But I really played great today. I didn’t give Tomas much. I was able to play aggressive and serve good, so it was overall a wonderful performance.”
Berdych, a former Paris Indoor champ, had been a bit of a nemisis to Federer, and after a strong win over Andy Murray his confidence had to have been sky high. But afterward in defeat the Czech commended Federer’s play.
“I would say, and I’m pretty confident to say, that that’s the old Roger,” said Berdych. “You know, the years that he was really winning everything. We can count the unforced errors that he hit, like maybe, on the fingers on one hand, which is incredible. He started every set really great and just didn’t give me any chance at all.”
In the final tomorrow, the Swiss will meet another power baseliner in home favorite JW Tsonga, who survived three match points to turn away John Inser 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(3).
“I think I went beyond frustration,” said Tsonga. “The first set was really tough. Little by little I said, ‘Listen, Jo, you have to enjoy this moment. Whatever happens, it’s a great moment. Everybody’s behind you. People are supporting you.’ What I had in mind was, ‘You don’t have to win, but at least enjoy yourself and love it.’
“I started feeling better and enjoying it, and especially trying to go forward with my returns, hit early. Even if the ball went out, at least I was playing the tennis I enjoy playing, and it helped me play better.”
Credit to Isner for playing some spectacular tennis today, and all week. This should bode really well for the big man in 2012.
As for the final, Federer leads Tsonga 5-3 winning their most recent clash at the US Open. But Tsonga beat him in a five-set crusher at Wimbledon, and if the Frenchman can get on one of those hot streaks he’ll be tough to beat, especially with the crowd behind him.
“It’s difficult to have set tactics against him.” said Tsonga. “What I like to do is be aggressive, because if I am just waiting for his shots I know I will lose. Whatever happens against Roger, I will need to play my best tennis.”
And JW knows it. He’ll have to go for winners, but with the court playing slow this could be problematic – Federer plays much better defense than Isner!
So, playing in his 99th career final Federer, I think, will have enough experience and reserves – remember JW is coming off an emotional tough third set breaker (like Monfils did last year against Murray) – and that’s why I’m going to pick Roger to get through for a second title in as many weeks and a 12th straight match win.
Federer likes power and pace which JW will give him plenty of. If Roger plays like he did Saturday it should be straightforward. But if Tsonga starts strong and fires the crowd up, then things could get interesting.
Match time is at 9am ET and Tennis Channel has live TV coverage. What a way to end the ATP’s regular season.
PARIS SUNDAY SCHEDULE
CENTRAL COURT start 12:15
[WC] J Benneteau (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs  R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)
Not Before 3:00 PM
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs  R Federer (SUI)
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