Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Federer demolishes James Blake

PEERLESS Roger Federer underlined his superiority in men's tennis when he raced to a three-set victory in the final of the US$4.45 million Masters Cup tournament

AFP , SHANGHAI

Roger Federer plays an unusual shot on his way to defeating James Blake in the final of the US$4.45 million Tennis Masters Cup tournament held at the Qi Zhong Stadium in Shanghai yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

World No. 1 Roger Federer rounded off a near-perfect season by demolishing James Blake to take his third Masters Cup title in straight sets yesterday.

The 2003 and 2004 champion blasted the bottom seed to love in the first set and rarely looked troubled, winning 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes.

The victory brought an emphatic end to what Federer describes as his best year yet, winning three out of four Grand Slam finals and another eight events in the regular season.

Federer's 29th consecutive win makes him the first man to bag three year-ending championships since Pete Sampras completed his haul of five in 1999.

The 25-year-old also becomes the first to surpass US$8 million in season earnings, taking home US$1,520,000 to boost his year's total to US$8,343,885.

Blake was the first Masters Cup debutant to reach the final in five years. Despite the one-sided final, his performance here has raised him to a career-high No. 4 ranking, making him the top US player.

"Today there was nothing I could have done. He played too good," the American said.

Words fail

"I've probably run out of adjectives to talk about his excellence. He's unbelievable and he steps it up in finals. I could have played a little better but to be honest I don't know if it would have made much difference today," Blaske said.

Federer also said he had exhausted adjectives to describe his performance and said he was playing so well it even made him laugh.

"I've run out of words as well. I even had to laugh at one stage at how well I was playing," he said.

"I always came up with a great answer. I was in control all the time and pretty much everything I wanted to do, I did, Federer said.

"At this stage in my career I'm so happy with my game, it's come such a long way, I'm also out of words," he said.

Fast start

Federer started at a gallop, hitting two aces and a service winner in his first game and breaking Blake twice in a row to take a stranglehold on the first set.

He faced five break points in the fifth game but eventually came out on top, breaking Blake in the next game to take the set to love in a quickfire 26 minutes.

A stunned Blake eventually held for 1-1 in the second set and had another four break points against the Swiss, but Federer conjured his eighth ace to escape and took the set-winning break in the next game.

Federer broke twice in the third set and was serving for the title when Blake conjured his first break of the match and held to love.

But the unruffled Swiss genius raced to three championship points in his next game, calmly converting the first with a service winner.

Federer's record for the season ends at a staggering 92-5 after his four losses to Rafael Nadal and one to Andy Murray.

He entered the final after stretching his unbeaten round-robin record to 15-0 in five consecutive Masters Cup appearances, dropping just two sets in his five matches this year.

Blake was the last to qualify for the tournament on the back of a breakthrough season in which he took five titles and entered the top 10 for the first time.

The New Yorker was the first into the semi-finals following round-robin wins against Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko.

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