Roger Federer's tough season is ending on a high note after the Swiss star beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6 (3) yesterday to win his first Paris Masters title and the 69th of a glittering career.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion had never previously reached the Paris final, but gave the sixth-seeded Frenchman limited opportunities after saving two break points in his opening service game.
"I'm just ecstatic to have played so well this week," Federer said. "I have had many attempts to win Paris and for some reason I wasn't able to. It's a special victory."
The former No. 1 will end the season without a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2002 and his ranking has dropped to No. 4. But Federer has bounced back of late, winning the Swiss Indoors last week before arriving in Paris.
"I have had some really tough losses this year, but I kept believing the year wasn't over," said Federer. "I'm not playing to prove anything to anybody. I play for myself, I play for Switzerland (and) just to enjoy myself."
Federer took six weeks off after the Davis Cup playoff against Australia in mid-September and feels it paid off.
"I always plan in the long term," Federer said. "I know how gruelling it is out there. Even I need my time away."
His 18th Masters title puts him one ahead of André Agassi and one behind all-time leader Rafael Nadal. The 30-year-old heads into the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals in London next week on a 12-match winning streak.
"I can still finish this year on a high," he said. "Now I have a massive highlight coming up in a week's time."