Swiss former world number one Federer overcame some dogged resistance from David Ferrer, winning 7-5 6-3 for his 12th victory in 12 against the gritty Spaniard before crowd-pleasing Tsonga stormed to a 6-3 7-5 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych.
Tsonga is the first Frenchman to reach the final since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001 while Federer has made the final for the seventh time in the 10 consecutive years he has qualified for the elite event contested by world’s top eight.
They will face off for the third consecutive Sunday after Federer won a close one in last Sunday’s opening round-robin match here and a more one-sided affair the week before that in the final of the Paris Masters.
Tsonga, however, has been in rampant form here, including a defeat of Rafa Nadal, and said he would try everything to avoid a hat-trick of defeats and repeat his stunning Wimbledon quarter-final victory over the Swiss.
“If I have to break my two ankles to win, I will do it for sure,” he told reporters. “It’s the last match of the season so I will be giving everything. After that, it’s a party.”
Ferrer, who posted victories over Andy Murray and world number one Novak Djokovic this week, matched Federer for the first 10 games although there was a sense that he was merely holding back the tide—such was the burden of his previous 11 unsuccessful encounters with the 16-times major winner.
Once Federer broke serve in the 11th game the outcome of the match was never in doubt as he cruised to the 100th ATP final of his career—a feat managed by only four other players.
The Swiss will become the first player to win the season-ending title six times should he prevail—edging ahead of the five he shares with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl.
He would also pocket the $1.63 million jackpot for winning all five of his matches at the tournament, a feat he also achieved last year in the spectacular 02 setting.
“It’s obviously going to be a special occasion for me tomorrow, playing my 100th final, possibly winning my 70th, winning my sixth at the World Tour Finals,” Federer said after stretching his current winning streak to 16.
“It will be quite funny to play Tsonga in the finals of Paris, on the first day here and the next Sunday again. He’s very confident right now and he’s going to be extremely dangerous,” added Federer.
FOR A TITLE
Federer’s 806th victory on tour, the same as his boyhood idol Stefan Edberg, will not go down as one of his classics.
He made 29 unforced errors and struck four winners from the back of the court, but his B game was still too good for world number five Ferrer who, for all his hustle and bustle, could not engineer a single break point in the 85 minute contest.
The only sticky moment for Federer was at 4-5 in the opening set when he was taken to five deuces but he upped the tempo in the next game, breaking Ferrer’s serve to seize control.
“Obviously it was a key 5-4 game for me to hold and then break the next game, then actually break again early on in the second set,” Federer, who will climb back to three in the ATP rankings above Murray, said.
“That was a crucial 15, 20 minutes for me. I’m happy I was able to decide the match right there.”
Tsonga has played some of the most eye-catching tennis all week and the Mohammed Ali lookalike brought more roars from the 17,500 capacity crowd with his trademark victory dance after out-slugging a tired-looking Berdych.
After a scrappy first set, Tsonga looked to have the match in the bag when Berdych double-faulted at 3-3 in the second although the Czech hit back immediately.
Some netted forehands from Berdych gave Tsonga another break at 5-5 and this time there was no escape as the Frenchman slammed down an ace on match point to seal his biggest final since reaching the Australian Open final in 2008.
He said victory in Sunday’s final would be even bigger than beating Federer at Wimbledon this year.
“It’s going to be better because this is for a title,” he said. “This tournament is the top eight players in the world. If I can join the great names on the trophy it will be amazing.
“It’s going to be really special for my first final here. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere on the court.
“Roger is the best player for the moment indoors. But I think I can join him for one match.”