Roger Federer added yet another record to his bursting CV by claiming a record sixth year-end Championships, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3 to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Competing for the third Sunday in a row in what was their eighth meeting this season, the French-speaking duo enthralled all 17,500 spectators at London's O2 Arena, among them the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
Although it was the ebullient Tsonga who looked the fresher in the early stages, it was Federer who made the first move, breaking the Frenchman in the eighth game, and serving out the opening set 6-3.
Federer had Tsonga on the ropes in the second also, taking an early break with an affirmative yell, and stepped up to the baseline to serve for the title. But Tsonga was not ready to catch the Eurostar just yet. Dancing around the baseline in his ruby red shoes, he broke the famous Federer serve, and sent the second set into a tie-break.
If there is any player who knows how to close out a tie-break, it is the Swiss. But, despite having a championship point on his racket, he was undone by a Tsonga forehand, which brought to mind echoes of the infamous Djokovic forehand in their US Open semi-final earlier this year.
With Tsonga taking the tie-break and the second set, the final went into a deciding set for the second year in succession.
And, as has been his wont this autumn, Federer made the crucial move when he had to, breaking Tsonga again in the eighth game, and serving out with a smash on his second match point.
Overtaking Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl's haul of five year-end titles, it was also Federer's third title in four weeks, a 17-0 match-winning streak, which he will carry into 2012.
"Well, it feels very special, indeed," Federer said. "It's an amazing feeling. I know it's one of my greatest accomplishments. As well as the way the match went, I think. I think that was the difference to other matches this year, where I lost so closely, and this time around I was still able to find a way through. I think that was the difference at times during the year, which didn't maybe make this an absolutely phenomenal year.
"But this definitely is an amazing finish again to the season. I've never finished so strong. I thought I played well. Look, I thought Jo played well. Could I have won it easier? I guess. I had it in my hands. I had a chance to go a double break in the second. I had chances to serve it out. I had chances in the tiebreaker. I had to go through the third set, which was tough, but eventually I made it, which felt probably even better going through three sets.
"The relief was amazing. The joy, of course, as you can imagine, was great."
The debate over whether Federer is the greatest male player of all time may continue to rage in conversations and message boards across the country, but there can be no doubt that with a record 16 grand slam singles titles, 70 titles and six year-end titles, the mighty Swiss remains the greatest player of his era. All eyes will be on him to see what else he can achieve in 2012.
To find out more about all the goings on at The O2, visit www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com now.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all