Things went according to form on Saturday and when the dust settled the two best indoor players this fall, Roger Federer and JW Tsonga, will meet for the third straight Sunday in November, this one for the prestigious title of the ATP Finals.
Federer wasn’t his sharpest today, but managed to roast David Ferrer for a 12th straight time beating the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3. And in doing so Federer moved into his 100th career final and back to the No. 3 ranking.
“I thought it was a tough match,” said Federer. “[I] could clearly see why David beat Murray and Djokovic here – he takes the ball really early, is able to generate great angles off his plays [and is] super consistent. Obviously, [it] was a key 5-4 game for me to hold and then break the next game. Then, actually, break again early on in the second set. That was a crucial sort of 15-20 minutes for me. I’m happy I was able to decide the match right there.”
Tsonga posted nearly the same scoreline as Federer, easing past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5 to continue his hot run this fall.
“It’s a good victory for me because I was really tight,” said Tsonga. “I didn’t play a good tennis, but I won. This is the goal of this sport. I did it tonight. So I’m just really happy to reach this final.”
The final tomorrow with be the third meeting of the month between Federer and Tsonga, and remarkably their 8th of the season (5-2 Federer)!
Federer is once again mopping up when his rivals are tired, injured or just disinterested. And he rolls into the finals as the favorite spurred by a 16-match winning streak with titles in his last two tournaments, plus he holds a 7-3 lead over the Frenchman in their series.
“I’ve maybe had some easier matches against [Tsonga],” said Federer. “But lately, they’ve all been very tough, very physical. He’s improved a lot. He’s really cemented himself into the Top 10, now even into the Top 5. I expect him to have another very solid and good season if things fall in place for him. He’s one of the best returners we have in the game. He’s got great mental toughness. He’s extremely fit.”
Tsonga may be on the short end of his head-to-head against Federer, but he has beaten the Swiss twice this year in big matches at Wimbledon and Canada. The guy is fearless and shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the occasion.
“All the time [it's] really exciting to play against Roger,” said Tsonga. “It’s going to be really special here, for my first final. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere I think on the court, and I like that. I’m sure I will respect Roger a lot and play my best tennis.”
While Novak Djokovic hold up the Finals title would have been a storybook end to an incredible year, Federer or Tsonga walking away with the final prize isn’t so bad either.
With so many of the numbers favoring Federer tomorrow, I’m giving Tsonga a shot here. Can Roger really beat the same guy three straight Sundays and stay perfect against him indoors? Eventually it’s going to come to end and I think Tsonga’s going to put up a good fight.
This last half of 2011 Tsonga has been playing Top 3 tennis. And the conditions, the surface and the fact he’ll be the underdog should help Tsonga, but I’m sticking with Federer. The momentum is on his side and indoors he’s won 32 of his last 33. It’s two more sets and I think this close to the end Roger finishes the season once again on a high note.
“It’s obviously a special occasion for me tomorrow playing my hundredth final, possibly winning my 70th winning my sixth at the World Tour Finals,” said the 30-year-old Federer. “That would be a record.”
The Federer-Tsonga final will be carried live on ESPN2 TV at 12:30pm ET.
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