On Semifinal Saturday, the ATP World Tour Finals final was set, and it will feature two men who will have played on three consecutive Sundays come final day. Those two men are of course Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer came through against David Ferrer 75 63 and Tsonga defeated Tomas Berdych 63 75 (huh, opposite scorelines).
In the first match of the day, Federer played Ferrer, with whom he had a perfect 11-0 record against. The match started out very evenly, and both men held serve until 4-4. The tennis being played was not very pretty, especially from Federer's end, as he was littering the court with unforced errors. However, Ferrer could never capitalize and both men kept holding serve. At 5-5, Roger had about 6 or 7 game points and after each one I thought it was more and more likely that Ferrer would break. However, Fed kept getting let off the hook by the #2 ranked Spaniard, and he eventually held. That ended up being very crucial, because Ferrer got broken in the next game to lose the tight first set 7 games to 5. It was hardly pretty, but Fed got the job done in the end and that's what matters. In the second set, Roger played much better tennis and broke in the first game to take an early stranglehold. It was plainly evident that he was hitting the ball much crisper, and the unforced errors disappeared whilst a swift, attacking game of tennis reared it's beautiful head and he won the second set comfortably 6-3 after breaking in the final game at 5-3. Overall, it was a very solid win for Roger. He praised Ferrer after the match for his grit and spirit and he knows that things could have easily been different had it not been for a few shots here and there.
After the match on Twitter, there were many complaints that Roger played a poor match, but I don't believe that to be the case. In the match itself, he was 15 of 17 at the net, and never faced a break point, which is remarkable against David Ferrer, one of the best returners in the game. More so than that though, I think it took a while to find his rhythm and timing on Ferrer's groundstrokes, which were unlike any of his previous opponents. Think about it: Tsonga hits it hard and flat, Nadal hits in heavy with lots of topspin, and Fish hits it flat with not a lot of pace. Ferrer hits the ball with lots of spin like a Nadal, but without the same kind of pace generated. I believe it took Roger a while to get comfortable off the ground in taking Ferrer's strokes on, but once he found the range in the final game of the first set, he was playing very comfortably and cruised to victory. This is just my own personal take on it of course, but I like to think that I know Roger's game inside and out, and having played tennis myself for a decade now, I can understand how difficult it can be to adjust to an opponent's playing style.
The biggest news of the win was that Roger regained his #3 ranking from Murray and made his 100th ATP Tour final, which is something amazing in of itself. To address the first point, better luck next time Murray. That is what you get when you talk trash before the tournament when you know you are not anywhere close to 100 percent ready. "I'm going to let my tennis do the talking," yeah right Andy. To address the second point, CONGRATULATIONS ROGER! I know he does not track every record and achievement he gets, but many of us do and to reach 100 finals is absolutely stunning, and with a win in the final here, he would have a 70-30 record, also quite stunning.
Looking ahead to the final, I believe if Roger plays his very best, which is quite likely, he will win in straight sets. Tsonga is looking very confident right now and will surely be very motivated to win to avenge the last three losses to Roger, but I cannot see him winning if Roger is anywhere near his peak. Speaking of motivation, with a win, Roger will win $1,630,000 in prize money for going undefeated, as opposed to the $770,000 he would otherwise receive without an imperfect record. Surely, to have two straight undefeated World Tour Finals tournaments would underline his dominance indoors. I doubt Roger needs any motivation from money however. I can only imagine how much money he has in his bank account, what with the tennis earnings and the sponsorships with Nike, Mercedes, Wilson, Jura, Credit Suisse, Rolex, NetJets, Lindt, and Gillette. It would still be a nice perk though.
I'm looking forward to a great final and I hope to see Roger lifting his 6th Masters Cup trophy high in the air come tomorrow. GO ROGER!