By Steve Keating
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had one more surprise in his bag of upsets, beating second seeded Roger Federer 7-5 7-6 (3) to cap a scintillating march to the Rogers Cup title on Sunday.
After knocking off world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round, taking out twice champion Andy Murray in the quarters and seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov in the semis, Tsonga denied 17-time grand slam winner Federer a landmark 80th career title.
“I played well all this week, I beat many good guys,” said Tsonga. “It’s a big achievement because I worked really hard to come back from my knee injury last year.
“Unfortunately there is no secret…behind this there is a lot of work.
“I’m waiting for this since couple of months now. I was looking for my best level, today I had it and it’s great.”
Certainly there was no disputing that Tsonga’s win was well-deserved, the 13th seeded Frenchman’s hit list including players who had won seven of the last 10 Canadian titles (Djokovic 2012, 2011, 2007; Murray 2010, 2009 and Federer 2004, 2006).
It marked the first time since 2002 that a player had beaten the four top seeds to win a Masters series event.
“He beat great players along the way and backed it up with another great final,” said Federer, who turned 33 on Friday and had been hoping to celebrate his birthday by lifting the trophy. “No excuses. I think he played really solid and well when he had to.
“I wish I could have played a bit better in the finals today.
“There were things I could have done better, but, overall it was a positive week.
“I go away from this feeling good about my chances next week and also at the U.S. Open.”
In 16 career meetings Tsonga had beaten the Swiss maestro just five times but three came on the Canadian hard courts.
With Federer appearing in his fifth Canadian final and Tsonga having advanced to at least the semi-finals in three of his four trips to Canada, both men had a cool look of confidence as they walked onto a blazing hot centre court.
In a week of superb performances, Tsonga may have saved his best for last, the second seeded Swiss unable to manage a single break chance the entire match.
Federer did not allow Tsonga many break opportunities himself but the one he did, in the first set, was all the Frenchman needed converting the chance to clinch the set and a 1-0 lead.
Play remained tight in the second with no break points, the set going to a tie-break won by Tsonga, who took four straight points after the breaker had been deadlocked at 3-3
“What is achieved is achieved and I will just continue on this way, continue to work hard,” said Tsonga, when asked about his U.S. Open chances. “This win gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the year, of course.
“But I will continue to do my work like I did last couple of months and I hope I will continue to win.”