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Vintage Federer defeats Tsonga, sets down marker for 2012

When he’s good, he’s really good. Roger Federer claimed his sixth end-of-tour Championship on Sunday – a new record in tennis.

THEY MET IN the opening match of the tournament; they met in the final. And on both occasions, there was only one winner – Roger Federer.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion needed three sets to overcome the challenge on his rival on Sunday, winning out 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in an enthralling contest at the O2 Arena.

There was nothing between the pair until the eighth game of the first set, when a couple of wild shots saw Tsonga find himself 0-40 down. Federer, playing in his 100th tournament final, had the experience to capitalise and the set quickly followed the break of serve to put the Swiss 6-3 ahead.

The Frenchman looked angry with himself throughout the opening games of the second set and was forced to fend off a break point in the third game before eventually being broken in the fifth game by a superb passing shot from Federer.

Tsonga was hanging on with his finger tips at this stage – Federer seemingly with the ultimate ability to remain calm under pressure – but when it came time for the latter to serve for the match and the championship, his opponent, incredibly, found some untapped reserves to fire a superb passing shot and break back.

Both men retained serve to force a tiebreak but with Federer 5-2 ahead at one stage, Tsonga was on the ropes again. At 5-6, he served and saved a Championship point and then held his nerve to forge ahead and win the breaker 8-6 – returning a weak second serve from Federer with interest.

Understandably, given the drama of the tiebreak, it was a subdued start to the third and deciding set. However, Federer served with little difficulty throughout – causing problems for Tsonga with the Frenchman on serve – and the vital break through came at the end of a mammoth eighth with the Swiss finally winning the game with his third break point.

That left the world number four, the world number three come Monday, 5-3 ahead and he served the match out comfortably, 40 minutes after earning his first Championship point. Federer has now won his last three consecutive tournaments and 70 in total during his career.

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