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FEDERER TAKES #6, #3, #70, #4 and $1.63M

Federer defeats Tsonga in London Final


November 27, 2011 | 10:55 PM

Having guaranteed himself the #3 year end ranking by his semi-final win over Ferrer on Saturday, Federer defeated Jo Tsonga 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-3, adding a RECORD 6th title to his Masters Cup collection, his 4th of the year and his 70th career title. Doesn't it seem like more?

Fed started the match as at least a 3/1 favorite, and increased his odds by leading off strong and not allowing a break point through the first set. Anxious to reverse what had become a trend in their 4 matches in the last 4 months (all won by Roger), Jo came out banging more winners than Roger and losing very few points on serve until 3-4. Roger then nailed 3 backhand winners to put Jo in a 0-40 hole from which he didn't let the Frenchman escape. Jo's showed his frustration early in the 2nd set, making poor tactical decisions which forced him to save more break points. He held serve at 1-1 in spite of a very poor game, but was broken in his next hold attempt when Fed ran around a 2nd serve and hit a forehand winner. The Swiss played on cruise control to 5-4 when an apparent case of nerves disrupted his 1st service rhythm and allowed Jo to attack 2nd serves. With an easy break, they headed toward the inevitable tie-breaker, which would include Roger edging to a match point at 6-5 on serve after leading 5-2, only to be denied by bold play from Jo. His 18 winners in the set had barely evened the match.

The 3RD SET started out looking like anyone's as Roger continued to see his first serve percentage drop and Jo continued to play more aggressively. Perhaps on the confidence of his 16 match winning stretch and back-to-back defeats of Jo on consecutive Sundays, Roger kept to his game plan and waited for the rhythm to return, which it did by mid-set - in time to see him pressure his opponent to the breaking point 3 times at 3-4. Finally, the break came when he forced a running forehand error. This time he would serve it out at love.

FOR TSONGA, who might have become the first Frenchman to win the year-end championship, the year ended with him ranked a career high #5, but at a distance of 2500 points behind #4 Murray's 7380 total. Hard to contemplate in the off-season will be what might have been in his sights 4 months ago when he finished beating Roger a 2nd time in a row: the thought that he might have ended the year at #3. Should he have continued to beat Roger and won their next 4 meetings, that's where he'd probably be ranked today. Instead, he is the new #5, the man who's managed to put some distance between himself and the next 5 but seems unable to close the gap with the top 4. David Who?

FOR FEDERER, his 2nd straight year-end title makes us wonder all over again: Who - if anyone - can start the next year any better?

JOKER has some physical issues which time off has yet to resolve.

NADAL seems to have confidence issues which have rarely been resolved before the clay season (his one win in Australia, in '09, came after his first #1 finish in '08). His lead over Roger in the rankings is less than it's been all year, to the point that an Australian title and a couple of strong hard court finishes in the winter for Federer could see him take over #2, if not #1.

The court surfaces in Melbourne and Miami won't favor Federer over either man. Nor can Murray be counted out. The Scot should have time to recover from his groin injury, as should Joker. So I don't think a re-shuffling of the order at the top is likely.

The best thing that could happen to Roger is for Jo to become a more consistent threat against the top guys. He was 2-1 with Rafa in 2011, but 0-2 with Joker, and he hasn't beaten Murray in 4 years. If Tsonga can recover his focus in January to play the way he did in '08, when he upset both Murray and Nadal, no one would be happier than Federer. He was, after all, the man who stopped Jo back in '08.

The next best thing for Roger would be to do what he did this year: play VERY consistent tennis. Over the course of 2011, only 1 man not in the top 10 managed to beat him (#16 Gasquet in Rome, in 3 sets). Neither Nadal or Murray managed such consistency this year.

Rick

ATP Tour 11.27.11


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