Roger Federer will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the ATP World Tour Finals title in what will be his 100th career final.
France’s Tsonga qualified for his first season-ending ATP title match by beating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 7-5 at London’s O2 arena. The sixth-ranked Tsonga, a former Australian Open finalist, trails Federer 3-7 in career meetings.
Earlier today, Federer defeated Spain’s David Ferrer, 7-5, 6-3 in the other semifinal. A forehand sealed the 806th win of his career, tying him in sixth place with former Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg for most victories in the Open era.
“It’s an amazing career I’ve had,” Federer said in a courtside interview, after the crowd cheered to acknowledge his making his 100th final. “I don’t know how I do it, 100 finals and I am still walking normally.”
Federer, at 30 the oldest competitor in the eight-man field, was the only man out of the top four to make the semifinals. He won all three group matches, including his opener against Tsonga, and is trying to win a record-breaking sixth ATP Tour Finals title. The fourth-ranked player turned pro in 1998.
“He’s going to be extremely dangerous,” Federer said about Tsonga. “He’s going to believe in his chance.”
Against Ferrer, Federer had trouble keeping his ground strokes inside the lines. He held serve in the tenth game after a long deuce game.
“He had the upper hand on the baseline, I was struggling with his top spin,” Federer said. “Holding serve for 5-5 was key to winning the match.”
Federer broke Ferrer in the next game as the Spaniard double-faulted. Federer took the first set with a 125 mile-per-hour service winner. He was never in trouble again in the second set, producing three love games and breaking Ferrer in the opening game. He moved to his seventh championship match at the ATP Finals with a forehand. Ivan Lendl made nine title matches, while Boris Becker played eight.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain both exited the tournament in the group stages. Both said they were tired mentally and physically following the eleven-month long tennis season. Fourth-ranked Andy Murray of Britain pulled out after his opening match of the tournament with a groin strain.
Federer’s 12th win over Ferrer in as many matches means he’ll regain the No. 3 spot from Murray when the rankings are published in two days.
Federer had entered the ATP Finals after winning back-to-back titles in Basel, Switzerland, and Paris. Before the start of the tournament, he said he’d taken a six-week break after losing to Djokovic in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September to give himself time to recover and prepare for 2012 and the London Olympics. The Swiss, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, has never won a singles gold medal at the Olympics.
For the first time since 2002, Federer plays the ATP Finals without holding one of the year’s Grand Slam titles. He last won a major at the 2010 Australian Open. His win over Ferrer extends his win streak since New York to 16 matches.