LONDON Defending champion Roger Federer overcame some dogged resistance from Spain's David Ferrer to reach the final of the ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday, winning 7-5 6-3 at the O2 Arena.
Ferrer held back the tide for nearly 90 minutes but was powerless to prevent a 12th defeat out of 12 against Federer, who won without needing to scale the heights he managed in his thrashing of Rafael Nadal in midweek.
Federer on Sunday will face the winner of the other semi-final between French powerhouse Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Czech Tomas Berdych. It will be Federer's 100th ATP Tour final -- only four players have reached more finals in the sport's history.
The Swiss, one of the game's most prolific record-setters, will become the first player to win the season-ending title six times should he prevail -- edging ahead of the five he shares with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl.
He would also pocket the $1.63 million jackpot for winning all five of his matches at the tournament, a feat he achieved last year at London's Docklands.
"It's obviously going to be a special occasion for me tomorrow, playing my 100th final, possibly winning my 70th, winning my sixth at the World Tour Finals," Federer said after stretching his winning streak to 16.
Federer's 806th victory on tour, the same as his boyhood idol Stefan Edberg, will not go down as one of his classics.
He made 29 unforced errors and struck four winners from the back of the court, but his B game was still too good for world number five Ferrer.
The 16-times grand slam champion did not face a break point in the match, and his only tricky moment came when he served at 4-5 in the opening set and was taken to five deuces.
Federer upped the tempo in the next game to break the Ferrer serve, and after sealing the set he immediately moved a break ahead at the start of the second to seize control.
Any belief Ferrer brought with him evaporated as Federer cruised to victory in one hour, 25 minutes.
"Obviously it was a key 5-4 game for me to hold and then break the next game, then actually break again early on in the second set," Federer said. "That was a crucial 15, 20 minutes for me. I'm happy I was able to decide the match right there."
Of all the statistics and records available, one of the most significant was that by reaching the final Federer will return to number three in the world, above Andy Murray -- notice that, with a new season just weeks away, Federer is back on the up.
(Editing by Dave Thompson and Stephen Wood)