Roger Federer had struggled to find his usual form in 2013, winning only one title in Halle for the first time since 2001 before bouncing back a year later, finishing 2014 season with more than 70 wins and five ATP crowns, including Masters 1000 events in Cincinnati and Shanghai.
In addition, Federer advanced into five other finals, falling at the last step at Wimbledon, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo and Toronto. On August 10, Roger suffered a tight 7-5, 7-6 loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final of Canada Masters in Toronto, with the Frenchman delivering the fifth victory against Roger in 16 encounters.
Toronto 2014 stands among the best tournaments that Jo-Wilfried ever played, claiming three top-10 wins against Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray to march into the final and losing serve only against the Briton.
There was nothing wrong with Tsonga’s serve in the title match against Roger Federer as well, dropping only 15 points behind the initial shot and never offering break chances to the Swiss despite serving at only 50%.
Federer was powerless against the rival’s first serve (taking miserable two out of 35 points) and couldn’t at least prolong the clash after saving six out of seven break points. They had the same number of winners although Tsonga was the one who tamed his shots more efficiently, spraying 18 unforced errors while Roger counted to 37, too much for a more favorable result.
Jo-Wilfried won 14 points more than his rival, overpowering Federer 66-57 in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes. He also had a 22-17 advantage in the mid-range rallies while nothing could have separated them in those points that passed the ninth shot, with four points for each player.
Tsonga held in the opening game with a forehand winner and Roger got his name on the board with a service winner in game two to level the score at 1-1 and make a promising start. It was important for the Frenchman to stay in touch in those early games and he certainly did that, holding at love in game three and again at 2-2 when he blasted four winners.
Federer was there to fight, firing three winners in game six for a 3-3 after just 16 minutes, with nothing to separate them so far. The only thing that was missing in Jo-Wilfried’s game was his first serve and Federer reached deuce on the return in game seven, denied by two booming serves from Tsonga who moved 4-3 ahead, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.
Jo-Wilfried landed four service winners in game nine and Roger responded with a volley winner for a 5-5, moving 30-0 ahead on the return in game 11 for the first chance in the return games. With no room for errors, Tsonga escaped problems and brought the game home with a service winner, forcing Roger to serve to stay in the set.
After 42 minutes of play, the first break of serve was on the horizon when Federer’s backhand landed long, allowing Tsonga to convert a break chance after a forehand error from the Swiss to grab the opener 7-5. Roger couldn’t find the pattern to solve Jo-Wilfried’s serve and the Frenchman held at 15 to open the second set in style, doing the same in game three for a 2-1 advantage.
Three winners in game five kept Jo-Wilfried in front, reaching deuce on the return a few minutes later after a backhand error from his opponent. Federer saved a break point with an ace down the T line for a crucial hold but Jo-Wilfried had no intentions of stopping down in his games, jumping into a 4-3 lead and hoping for more chances on the return in the next couple of games.
They came in the following game after a double fault from Roger who managed to save four break chances with winners, completing a marathon game with an ace to boost his odds for a comeback. Nonetheless, Tsonga was yet to put a foot wrong behind the initial shot, firing two service winners to finish the ninth game and earning the match point in the next game, playing well on the return again.
Federer repelled it with a well-constructed attack and held after numerous deuces and Jo-Wilfried’s backhand error to survive and level the score at 5-5. Tsonga showed no sign of nerves, though, delivering four winners to take a 6-5 lead and this time it was all about Roger in his service game, painting a forehand down the line winner to set up a tie break, a must-win one for him.
The first point for the returner came in the seventh point when Roger hit a loose backhand, with three match points up for grabs for the Frenchman after two winners on his serve. Jo-Wilfried needed only one, sealing the deal when Federer netted a backhand to lose the breaker 7-3 and hand the trophy to his rival who completely overpowered him in every segment of the game to become a deserved champion, lifting his first Masters 1000 crown since Paris 2008.