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August 18 • 11:12
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Federer Reaches Final in Paris Vs Tsonga



November 13, 2011
Paris was the only ATP 1000 level Masters that had not yet seen der Federer in der final, and as a result of today's win, Rog became the first man ever to have reached the final in all 9 events. On the heels of Fed's 800th career win yesterday, a milestone perhaps celebrated in Basel on 11.11.11, the result today was well-received in Paris, where everyone hoped - including Federer, who told this to the crowd on court - that his opponent would be Jo Tsonga.

There was some possibility Jo might flatten all 6'9" of the tired marathoner, John Isner, who might have lost the charge in his own battery after a 3 set battle with the Energizer Ferrer yesterday. It didn't quite happen that way; in fact, it was the opposite. It was a rested but flat Tsonga who started the match by promptly dropping serve in the first game and losing the first set 3-6 in under 40 minutes without showing much strength in any department. He served poorly enough for Isner to force him to do the running too often, and won only 7 points on return. Even deep into the 2nd set, it appeared that Jo hadn't entirely found his game or his confidence at the net or elsewhere. Both men had to save a few break points, but until the 2nd set went to a tie-breaker, it was still Isner who was making pressure shots and looking comfortable on serve and at the net. Bercy sat at attention when the fate of their countryman rested on his chances against Mr. Tie-breaker, Overtime Isner (he trails only Federer, Joker and Sampras in ALL TIME winning percentage of TB's).

Showing his own TB prowess (ranked 12th on the ALL TIME list), Jo rallied from 1-1 in the TB to take 6 points in a row and make it 1 set all. Jo had the momentum, but he was still 0-3 on converting break points.

In the 3rd set, TSONGA made John work harder and between points the strain of playing his 6th set in less than 24 hours against top players was showing on the American. At 4-4, Tsonga got as far as triple break point on John's serve, but as he's done so more times than anyone actively playing, even when exhausted, Isner kept pounding in serves and held off the break points. His own turn came in the next game, with 3 MATCH POINTS in his favor on Tsonga's serve, and this time it was Jo's turn to stand tall. He did, and it went to another tie-breaker. At just under 3 hours, the match ended with Jo running off 5 points to win 7-3. The glass exterior of Bercy was aglow from the excitement within for the match just concluded and the one to come tomorrow...

ISNER DESERVES recognition both for improving his returns and movement, which earned him a 2nd match point off a stunner of a running BH winner which Jo could only gape at as it went by. He again finished as the tour's #1 overall server, in the top 10 in all 6 service statistical measures, #1 in aces (ahead of #2 Tsonga) and in Total Service Games Won (90%, ahead of Federer at 89%). And, thanks to Paris, he'll finish a second year in the row in the top 20.

It seems to be fate this year that Jo meets Rog on big occasions: they split wins in the quarters of two majors (Wimbledon and The Open) and in the early rounds of two 1000's (Rome and Montreal). Fed leads their 2011 rivalry 3-2, courtesy of a semi-final win in Doha last winter. There has been a pattern to their matches: Tsonga's 3 wins have all been decided in the final set, while in Fed's 5 wins he's never lost a set. I will be surprised if they don't meet again in London, which will decide the rivalry if Rog doesn't beat him tomorrow as he's favored by about 3/1 to do. The performances today could only have increased the odds for a Fededer title.

FEDERER dominated Berdych, not facing a single break point for the 3rd time this week. There was only a single 30-all point on his serve (at 4-3 in the 1st set). Berdych could have gotten into the match if he'd made a move then, but he missed a slice BH from Roger who closed him out with the loss of just 6 points on serve in the set. Roger got his 1st serve in on big points and won 95% of the time when he did, and he never faced any serious pressure from the score or the opponent. Tomas only looked at fourteen 2nd serves in the match, not enough to seize any momentum (he won 7 of them). Today he was 3 for 6 in saving break points, showing none of the resoluteness he had against Murray yesterday, when he faced 17 break points and saved 15. Worse yet, Tomas served untimely double-faults (6 in all), losing his serve without a fight in spite of serving 10 aces to Roger's 5 (Rog wisely chose to get first serves in rather than try to trade aces). Even at net, when Berdych could get there, he fared poorly, winning 5 of 11 approaches versus 32 of 47 yesterday. Rog was so efficient from the baseline that he rarely needed to come forward to finish a point, and when he did, he was 6 for 6. Might drawing Roger forward have been a tactic Berdych might have tried as a last resort as he was blitz-krieged out of his mind? No: the Czech wins or lose by persisting with his power game. Today with Rog playing a different style than he did in his loss to Berdych in Cincy, the Czech lost big.

Paris is the ONLY ATP 1000 which TSONGA has won ('08 over Nalbandian). This was also true for the man Roger beat today, Berdych (won Paris in '05 at age 20 in his first final), but as cool and level a head as the Czech is, Tsonga plays on emotion and is as positively affected by a home crowd as any player today. Should Federer get off to a slow start as he did Friday against Monaco, or should he let Tsonga back into the match, between these two shot-makers it will come down to who nails the big points in a 3rd set. Jo's won all 3 of their final deciding sets played in the last 3 years when Rog has shown a tendency to tighten up. The slightest tightening can cost a man the match against the magic-maker from Le Mans.

Federer and Tsonga are the two top men who are currently healthy and playing the best tennis on the tour. The rest of the top 10 have either withdrawn, retired, or been upset more than these two this month. Federer's won 9 matches in a row since returning to action this month, and he's lost just one set (to Nieminem in Basel). Unless they kill each other tomorrow, look for them again in 10 days to be in the season's final weekend at the O2.

Currently, Fed is favored to win in London ahead of Murray, then Nadal, Joker and Berdych. I'd put Tsonga in there near the top now; regardless of the result tomorrow, he'll go in ranked on a par with his all time high, #6.

They'll take their sides at 9am EST after the doubles final, wildcard French veterans Mahut and Benneteau vs the #7 seeded Indo-Paki Express, Bopanna and Qureshi.

LIVE on The TENNIS CHANNEL.

Read more from the ATP site:

WHAT'S AT STAKE –

Winner: € 454,000 and 1,000 South African Airways ATP Ranking points

Runner-up: € 214,400 and 600 South African Airways ATP Ranking points

FINALS HISTORY –

Tsonga Appearing in his 11th ATP World Tour level final…………….7-3 record (2-2 in 2011)

Appearing in his 2nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final…..1-0 record (first in 2011)

Federer Appearing in his 99th ATP World Tour level final……………68-30 record (2-2 in 2011)

Appearing in his 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final…17-12 record (first in 2011)

2011 ATP MASTERS 1000 FINALS – Both players are appearing in their first ATP Masters 1000 final in 2011.

This will be the ninth all-Top 10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final of the season.

Champion (Rank) Finalist (Rank) Result

Indian Wells Novak Djokovic (3) Rafael Nadal (1) 46 63 62

Miami Novak Djokovic (2) Rafael Nadal (1) 46 63 76(4)

Monte-Carlo Rafael Nadal (1) David Ferrer (6) 64 75

Madrid Novak Djokovic (2) Rafael Nadal (1) 75 64

Rome Novak Djokovic (2) Rafael Nadal (1) 64 64

Montreal Novak Djokovic (1) Mardy Fish (8) 62 36 64

Cincinnati Andy Murray (4) Novak Djokovic (1) 64 3-0 Ret.

Shanghai Andy Murray (4) David Ferrer (5) 75 64

Paris Roger Federer (4) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (8)

ATP WORLD TOUR MASTERS 1000 TITLE LEADERS – Federer is attempting to capture his 18th career

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and Tsonga his second. Here are the leaders (since 1990):

No.

1) Rafael Nadal 19

2) Andre Agassi 17

Roger Federer 17

4) Pete Sampras 11

5) Novak Djokovic 10

6) Andy Murray 8

Thomas Muster 8

7) Michael Chang 7

Rick Devereux

erdevereux@gmail.com

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