DEFENDING champion Roger Federer kicked off the singles action at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London with a 6-2 2-6 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The fourth seed cruised through the opening set at a packed O2 Arena, but Tsonga hit back when Federer’s level dropped in the second and the result looked in doubt until the Swiss star broke to edge a tight decider.
The 30-year-old went into the tournament as the man to beat after back-to-back titles in Basel and Paris, where he beat Tsonga in the final to remain unbeaten since the US Open.
The Frenchman, playing at the O2 for the first time, could draw on his magnificent Wimbledon victory over the Swiss this summer, when he became the first man to beat Federer at a grand slam from two sets down.
But the world number four had won both their most recent meetings and did not take long to move ahead today, breaking in the fourth game after his opponent had let him off the hook in the previous game with a woeful miss.
Tsonga is an exciting but unpredictable player and, as with the opening set in Paris last weekend, he simply made far too many mistakes.