Federer's strength has records tumbling

 

The O2 Arena

Another year, another title, another set of records. Roger Federer seems to pass milestones as routinely as he passes opponents at the net and the 30-year-old Swiss ended his 13th full season on the tour here yesterday in the way that he knows best.

In beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in a thrilling climax to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Federer became the first man to win the season-ending championship six times, having previously shared the record with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras. He is the oldest man to win the title, supplanting Ilie Nastase, who was 29 when he won in 1975.

"It feels very special indeed," Federer said afterwards when asked about winning the title for a sixth time. "It's an amazing feeling. I know it's one of my greatest accomplishments."

The 807th win of Federer's career – which took him past the total of victories by Stefan Edberg, his boyhood idol – gave him his 70th title in his 100th final. Only Jimmy Connors, Lendl, John McEnroe and Guillermo Vilas have played in more finals in the Open era.

In today's world rankings Federer will retake the No 3 position taken from him last month by Andy Murray and thus end the year ranked inside the top three for the ninth season in succession. The former world No 1, who took his career earnings to nearly $67m (£43.3m) with his $1.63m (£1.05m) prize money here, has not added to his 16 Grand Slam titles for nearly two years but remains a major challenger for all the greatest honours. He has ended the season stronger than any of his rivals, winning 17 matches and three tournaments in a row.

The statistics, nevertheless, cannot do justice to Federer's brilliance or his resilience. Some of his tennis over the last week has been breathtaking in its attacking enterprise, while nobody handles the big occasions with more calm authority.

Another splendid week at a superbly run tournament, which has drawn more than a quarter of a million spectators for the third year in succession, was rewarded with a pulsating final.

With Pippa Middleton and Cristiano Ronaldo among the spectators there were plenty of show-stoppers in the packed 17,500-capacity arena. Boris Johnson appeared to take a desire to join that group too literally when he held up play after returning to his seat too late following a change of ends.

If celebrity-spotters had a field day, the lenses trained on the court focused mostly on one man. Federer is hugely popular the world over, but perhaps nowhere more so outside his own country than here.

Tsonga, nevertheless, had plenty of support too. The 26-year-old Frenchman, with a smile almost as broad as his shoulders, has won plenty of admirers on this side of the Channel with his bold attacking play.

This, remarkably, was the third Sunday in succession in which the two men faced each other – Federer won their Paris Masters final and their opening round-robin match here – and their eighth meeting this year.

For six games there was nothing to separate them. Tsonga, who has hit more aces this season than anyone, dropped only one point in his first three service games, but if his confidence was growing it was soon to be shattered. At 3-3 Federer won the first three points on the world No 6's serve with scorching backhands. On the fourth, Tsonga netted a volley as Federer cracked another big backhand down the line.

Having served out for the first set in 35 minutes, Federer seemed to have taken control of the second when he broke for a 3-2 lead with a thumping forehand return winner. The Swiss is normally the most effective of front-runners but cracked under a barrage of attacking shots when he attempted to serve out for the match at 5-4.

Tsonga punched the air in celebration after breaking serve for the first time with a smash and found similar strength in adversity in the tie-break. Federer led 5-2 but lost six of the next seven points, Tsonga saving a match point with a big forehand winner and then taking the set with a bold return.

At that stage both men might have thought back to their meeting in the Wimbledon quarter-finals five months ago, when Federer lost from two sets up for the first time in 179 Grand Slam matches, but this time the Swiss held firm. Tsonga saved two break points when serving at 3-4 but on the third he hit a forehand wide. The Swiss made no mistake when he served for the match for the second time. An ace set up three more match points and he needed only one, finishing with a smash. "I couldn't be more happy and I couldn't be more exhausted," the Swiss said after being presented the trophy.

Following a short break it will not be long before Federer begins his preparations for a new season. When the biggest prizes are handed out next year, do not be surprised if the greatest player of all time is around at the presentation ceremonies.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album