Tue, Aug 15, 2006 - Page 20 News List

It's all about Roger at the Rogers Cup

OVER AND OUT Roger Federer's 54th-straight match victory earned him a second Rogers Cup, denying the unseeded Richard Gasquet despite dropping the first set

AP , TORONTO

Roger Federer of Switzerland serves to Richard Gasquet of France during the final of the Toronto Masters Series Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Roger Federer won his second Rogers Cup in three years when he rallied past Richard Gasquet 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday's final.

Top-ranked Federer clinched his 40th career title, and 11th in the Masters Series. The Swiss star also won his 54th-straight match and ninth championship in North America since 2004.

"I just always believe that I can turn any match around," Federer said. "That's what happened today. I know that once I turn it around, once I would take the lead then it would be very difficult for my opponent. That's what I always tell myself."

"Maybe it's an illusion sometimes, but it definitely works," he said.

Gasquet was bidding to become the first French winner in the tournament's 125-year history. He beat Federer last year in Monte Carlo but has since lost five straight against him, including four this year.

Unseeded Gasquet started well by breaking Federer twice to claim the first set. Federer then started the second set 0-40 on serve but came back to hold and break Gasquet in the next game. The world No. 1 soon led 3-0 and held firm.

"I couldn't believe I started the second set so bad," Federer said. "Because that's the key moment of the match. But at the same time by giving yourself a love-40 you can also take away his confidence by coming back in that game and winning that game. Make him start doubting himself like that was maybe his big opportunity."

Gasquet agreed.

"I know with Roger, when you have some chances you have to do it," Gasquet said.

Federer broke Gasquet at 2-2 in the deciding set and that seemed to sap the 20-year-old, who was broken again in his next service game. Federer had no trouble after that. He raised his arms and smiled at the crowd when he closed out the match in 1 hour, 47 minutes.

Federer won four straight three-set matches to cap his seventh title this year. He won the Rogers Cup when it was last played in Toronto in 2004, but didn't defend the title last year.

"A little lucky here and there," Federer said. "In the end, a fantastic win for me, a fantastic tournament. I did it again."

Federer improved his match record to 62-4 this year. His only losses have been to Rafael Nadal.

He's also reached the final of his last 17 tournaments since June last year, one shy of matching Ivan Lendl's Open era record of 18 in 1981-1982. Federer will defend his title next week in the Cincinnati Masters.

Gasquet took advantage of some uncharacteristic mistakes in the opening set from Federer, who appeared flat. Federer made 17 unforced errors in the set to just two for the Frenchman.

Federer, who had a quick turnaround after Saturday night's semi-final win, looked like he had a hard time getting used to Gasquet's pace and spin. Federer's footwork looked a little off, leading to some shanked balls and other miscues.

For the most part, Gasquet stuck to the baseline and used his powerful groundstrokes to keep Federer off balance. He went to the net only four times in the set, as Gasquet uncorked blistering backhand winners.

Gasquet came out just as hard in the second set, pushing Federer to triple-break point in the opening game. But that seemed to fire up Federer, who fought back to deuce before holding serve. In the next game, Gasquet double-faulted at deuce and Federer took advantage to break and go up 2-0.

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