The records keep piling up for the great Roger Federer. Today, playing his 100th career ATP final, the Swiss captured his 70th title winning the World Tour Finals over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
After a subpar first 10 months to 2011, Federer finished with a flourish winning his last 17 matches and three straight titles including an undefeated run in London which culminated in a record sixth ATP Finals crown.
Federer will finish the year ranked No. 3 keeping his him in the Top 3 for a record ninth straight year. And at 30 he’s the oldest World Tour Finals champion.
He’ll now look ahead to 2012 and hope to collect two more titles in London: Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Here’s Roger’s post match interview:
Q. How does that rate? Another record. Six titles. No one has done that before. How do you think you actually played in the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it feels very special, indeed. I mean, you know, 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 World Tour Finals. It’s an amazing feeling. I know it’s one of my greatest accomplishments.
As well as the way the match went, I think. I think that was the difference to other matches this year, where I lost so closely, and this time around I was still able to find a way through. I think that was the difference at times during the year which didn’t maybe make this an absolutely phenomenal year.
But this definitely is an amazing finish again to the season. I’ve never finished so strong. I thought I played well. 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. I had chances to serve it out. I had chances in the tiebreaker. 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.
Q. The way you played the last few weeks, especially this week, do you feel like the best player in the world?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, who cares. I felt like I played great during these last few weeks, like you mentioned. I felt I played great here in London. It gives me a lot of confidence for next year.
But regardless of how it went here, I would have been in a good state of mind for next year. And I think that counts for all the other top guys as well. I think it’s been a good year and a good championships for most of the top eight players. I think most of them are looking forward to next year starting again at some point.
For me, it was the strongest finish I’ve ever had in my career, which I’m very proud of. I’m looking forward to next year. So I’m really excited.
Q. After a spectacular end of the season, regarding 2012, is a gold medal in singles your biggest dream for next year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. Why not? Still a long way to go. Obviously at this point I’m extremely tired. But, of course, I’m looking forward to coming back to London hopefully on three occasions next year. So this is going to be a very important place to play good tennis, like I did here this week.
Be unfair to the other tournaments to pick London Olympic Games as my number one priority because I have priorities first before that. But I clearly don’t want to miss it and I hope to be healthy when the Olympics do come around.
Q. Just tell us about the other members of the top four, what a brilliant season we have in prospect next year, and also a little bit more about how motivated you are to get back on the Grand Slam winning trail.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, to win Grand Slams would be nice. I’ve missed out on a few occasions now this year, and maybe also some last year. So I feel like it might be around the corner. Maybe not. The other players obviously have a role to play in this.
Novak was the Player of the Year, which goes without saying. A guy who can win 40 matches in a row from the start of the season completely deserves it till the very end of it.
I thought Andy played a very good season this year, Murray. Just unfortunate he couldn’t finish here strong. Other than that I thought he’s going to be very tough to beat next year.
And Rafa with his class anyway, he’s always going to be a threat for the throne, to win all the big tournaments.
I think the prospects are good. We also saw 5 to 8 or extremely close as well. Behind that, anything is possible, too. I think right now we have great quality within the top 10, even within the top 20, 25 actually. I’m looking forward to a tough season next year.
Q. You talked about the fact that this time you managed to win a close match, maybe a few times this season it hasn’t gone your way. What made the difference today? Is it a mental thing?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s a mental thing, yes. Not only. Sometimes it’s also the player playing better than you. Jo played better than me at Wimbledon. Maybe not much, but enough just to come through. Same as Rafa at the French Open in the finals, Novak in the semis of the US Open. It’s fine to respect that. But I feel when it happens maybe that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong.
I think I’m mentally good right now. That was also one of the reasons why I did take some time off, to actually think it through, you know, get into the right mental mindset because we do I don’t want to say underestimate or overestimate the mental part of the game, but there is a lot of time that goes by out on tour, during a match, you’re just trying to stay positive, but you can’t always be positive out there. You know, it’s just too difficult. That’s where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments.
I think I didn’t have those doubts now for the remainder of the season, which is what I wanted to get out of my system during this six weeks’ break, and I was able to do that.
Q. Two things about momentum. One, today after the second set, did you feel the momentum had swung over to Jo? In terms of your finish this season with Basel, Paris, and now, how much do you think that matters to the beginning of the next season, or will the slate be completely wiped clean come January 1st?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don’t feel like it completely swung his way, the momentum. He had to go through to the tiebreaker. He wasn’t serving his absolute best right then either. So I did have my chances in the breaker. I thought I was almost a better player in it.
But because I did serve for the match, and he knew that, somehow just felt like it was not going to go my way. I was trying everything I could. I think I took some good decisions. But my serve let me down, like it actually let him down in the breaker. There was a lot on the line. That was a bit disappointing for me.
But I actually did take the right decisions going into the third set. How I wanted to return Jo, how I wanted to play him from the baseline. I think I was able to stay calm mentally throughout that third set, because at that point, it’s very easy to lose your mind over what just happened.
Then for next year, yeah, I think I answered the question. I think everybody’s going to have an equal good chance to win the big tournaments. I think the injuries we saw were not that serious that we have to worry for anybody at the beginning of the season. I think that’s the most important at this point.
Q. You haven’t lost since the US Open. Is still the biggest regret of your year the match point that you didn’t make against Djokovic? Also, before, Tsonga said you have won everything, your career is perfect, but you’re missing the Olympic Games and the Davis Cup. Is the Davis Cup a priority for you or is it not anymore?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I said it. I don’t think the match against Novak was my biggest disappointment of the season. It wasn’t the finals. So I felt like my chances were there as much at the French Open against Rafa. I mean, that would have been an amazing accomplishment to beat Rafa in the finals of the French Open. So I look back on that one with maybe a few more regrets.
I know I was one point away from getting to the US Open final, but it all happened in a moment. It was past.
I think for me, most important is the reaction I show after losses like this. Because it was a tough loss, like you mentioned. It was one that hurt. It was one that makes you wonder, How in the world can I end up losing this match? But Novak had such great momentum going this season, you just felt like it was his season.
But to bounce back and not lose a match from that moment on I think shows, again, how tough I am, the right decisions I can take. I also lost to Jo twice in a row at Wimbledon and in Montréal. Now I beat him four straight times. These are the kinds of reactions I expect from myself.
So to come through and prove it to myself was a great feeling.
Look, I don’t know, I always have to explain myself. But I don’t have a sheet where I say, I have to achieve everything. I really don’t.
Would I take all these accomplishments? Yes, I would. But do I love winning six World Tour Finals? Yes, I love it equally. The effort that goes into all this is equally big. Every tournament I play in some ways is a priority for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing. I don’t play 35 tournaments. I play, you know, a certain amount where I know I can perform well. If the Olympics, Davis Cup, all these things are part of it, it’s great.
Right now I’m happy the season’s over. I’m happy the season went well. In some ways I can’t believe another season is over. But I’m happy I’m still strong and healthy and really excited for next year.
Q. I think the World Tour Finals equals a Grand Slam as a major title event. Now you have 16 Grand Slam titles and six World Tour Final titles. How much satisfaction do you have holding both records?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course I’m extremely happy and extremely proud. I still don’t feel like I’m better than Pete Sampras, or Lendl for that matter. I still believe they are one of the all time greats to play the game. I’m just happy to be compared to them.
I’m actually happy that they are mentioned while I’m doing this because they have done amazing things in our sport. Sometimes legends do get forgotten rather quickly, which is unfortunate.
So for me to hear we are talking about Pete, Ivan, other players, I think is great for the sport and great for them. I mean, that I hold both records, sure, I’m very happy about it, I’m proud, because I know the effort that has gone into it. It’s longevity, it’s something you can’t just do over a short period of time.
I used to be famous for not being consistent. I think this one proves to me that I was able, and proves to maybe many people, that if I can be, then many other people can be successful for a long period of time, as well, because I thought that was a very difficult thing to achieve.
Q. Talking about when you had that mental freshening up during your break, did you speak to anyone? Did you go back and look at your old matches? What was the process you went through?
ROGER FEDERER: It was a lot, you know, talking to Severin and Paul and Pierre and so forth, my team. Obviously, my wife, as well. Just going through things, how they are going on tour, how I would like them to be. Everybody bring in their own ideas, giving their own opinions, because in some way winning solves everything.
When you do lose, a lot of more problems come out. You see a lot more problems than there actually are. It’s like in the press room, not everyone can win the tournament, so they say you played poorly because you lost. I don’t always agree with that. It’s someone on a team that can create that vibe.
For me it was important to step back and sort of have that bird’s view from up top and say, Where am I right now in my year? It’s been a good year. I know I’ve been playing well, I’ve been healthy. When is all this hard work going to pay off?
I just had to stick with it and have the right mindset, which I then had obviously coming back.
Q. What exactly were the doubts at that time?
ROGER FEDERER: Nothing that I can put my finger on. It was just a matter of trying to find something or nothing, at least think it through. I always said I was going to play full on until the US Open and see where my ranking is going to be at after the US Open, see where my health is, how much more I’m going to have left for this year. And then also looking ahead for next year with the Olympics coming around, it’s going to be a different type of season. I had to look ahead for that, as well, how I wanted to manage my schedule. That was it really.
It was in some ways simple, but a tough choice to make not going to Asia. I was disappointed not being able to do that. There are so many reasons not to do it that it was the only right decision this year. I hope to be back again in Asia next year. But I’m happy it’s kind of paid off for the end of the season.
Q. I know it rather bucks the argument that people are playing too much tennis at the moment. Do you think to make the Masters final extra special, it should return to being the best of five sets?
ROGER FEDERER: The finals?
Q. Of this tournament.
ROGER FEDERER: I think so. I think so. I mean, if it’s a match like this, it’s fine. I think it’s still enough tennis for the people. I think it’s exciting. We had the whole scenario today in today’s match.
But if I would have served it out, it would have been over in a hurry. I think I almost felt the spectators weren’t quite ready for it to end quite yet, although many would have been happy for me, they would have loved to see more tennis.
I remember sitting in a room in Shanghai where players were asked, Would you like it to be five sets or three sets, the year end final? Kind of went in a circle.
Everyone said best of three sets. I was the only guy that said, I think we should have best of five sets. Okay, let’s make it best of three sets. I don’t care.
I do care actually. I think it makes for a great year end. Sure, you can see why maybe it’s healthier to play best of three sets. Maybe the year end could be a best of five set match. I do believe that, yeah.
Q. The season is now over for you, but there is still a Davis Cup final ahead next week. What is your feeling for this final? Do you think that Spain is the overwhelming favorite? Do you see any chance for Argentina?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m sure it’s an open match in some ways. But I think that Spain is the favorite. Are they the overwhelming favorite? I don’t think it matters. They are the favorites. They’re playing at home. They have an incredibly solid team.
But then again, the Argentinians, they have their players and their team, as well. If a surprise happens, anything’s possible. Obviously it’s normal to favor the Spaniards with Rafa on the team back on clay. It’s logical.
Q. With so many titles and records in the bag, how do you assess your hunger and desire? Has it dipped at all? Is it stronger than ever?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s normal really. I don’t go through phases where I feel like I want to play 10 more years and then only six more months. I always look ahead one and a half to two years, and that’s still the same right now. Then as time goes by, you know, you see how the body is.
I love this game more than anybody, so I’m not all of a sudden going to wake up in the morning and say I don’t like it anymore.
It’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot of effort I have to put in every day. I know that. But I do enjoy that because what I get in return is moments like I got today, with my team, with my family. It’s priceless really. So for this reason I’m very excited for next year.
I am happy that the season is over because it has been long, it has been grueling. But, yeah, I’m very happy and upbeat about what’s to come.
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