So the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals got under way earlier today with Federer taking on Tsonga in the opening singles match of the tournament. Roger won through 6-2 2-6 6-4. It was Roger's 10th straight appearance at the Masters Cup and after todays win he improved to a 35-7 event record. After beating Tsonga at the final in Paris 7 days ago Federer went into the match as the likely winner.
The first set was all Roger, or really, it was Roger serving quite well and Tsonga struggling to get the ball back in play, he was playing extremely erratically and Fed got the double break to take the first set 6-2.
It looked as though it would be a routine match for Federer after that the first, much like it did in the Wimbledon Quarters earlier this year, but his level dropped off a cliff in the second set. His first serve went walkabout, and his timing and shot selection were totally off key. Tsonga served a little better, but really Roger handed the set to Tsonga, much like Tsonga had done to Roger in the first.
It's difficult to say why Roger disappeared for a set, he seemed to struggle with conditions quite a lot, and wasn't able to hit his ground strokes with any sort of conviction. Both players made quite a lot of errors and I can't really remember even one memorable rally.
In the third set, Roger had a few uncomfortable moments early on but managed to hold onto his serve, from there on he began to serve much more solidly (as can be seen by his final first % of 66%) Both players cruised there service games up until 5-4, where Tsonga slipped to 0-40, he saved one, but Roger took the second to get a win under his belt and one which should arguably seal his place in the Semi Finals.
In the first set, I didn't put one ball in the court, and that's it,” said Tsonga. “Then I started playing better. I think he was a bit surprised, because I played so badly in the first set.
Federer vs. Tsonga Match Stats
1st serve %
Winning % on 1st Serve
Winning % on 2nd Serve
Break Points Converted
37 of 48 = 88%
15 of 25 = 60%
3 of 5 = 60%
Thoughts for the next few rounds…
In my ATP World Tour Finals predictions post I picked Roger to win the tournament, however I did say I wasn't convinced and was probably being too biased. I'm now even more skeptical that he will win here after todays performance as the conditions didn't really seem to suit him, or, they at the very least caused him quite a lot of problems.
Perhaps there's a huge difference from Paris that takes a lot of adjustment, I guess the fact that both players struggled today lends itself to that theory. Whatever the case, Roger will have to sharpen up and get used to the conditions. His return game looked very off today, and it will be interesting to see how he handles Mardy Fish who also has a fairly big serve.
It'll also be interesting to see how Nadal handles the surface later tonight. The ball looked to be sticking a bit on the court and looked pretty slow, those conditions should favour him. We'll also see how much bounce he gets off his forehand onto the Fish backhand.