Tue, Aug 21, 2007 - Page 18 News List

`Fed' claims 50th title in Cincinnati

OMINOUS SIGNS The World No. 1 completed the perfect tune-up for the US Open by blitzing James Blake to win the Cincinnati Masters in Ohio

AFP , CINCINNATI, OHIO

World No. 1 Roger Federer began and ended with aces to hammer home a 6-1, 6-4 victory over James Blake in the final of the Cincinnati Masters to win the 50th title of his career on Sunday.

The 11-time Grand Slam winner now heads to the US Open, which starts on Aug. 27, in search of a fourth straight trophy in New York.

"I'm very excited and confident about the Open," said Federer, 45-6 on the season with five titles. "But that's an entirely different place, it's crazy."

Federer, who dominated Blake for his seventh victory without a loss in their career rivalry, has lost just one set to the American. Federer struck nine aces and held off five break points in victory.

The Swiss top seed won his second Cincinnati trophy in three years after beating Andy Roddick in 2005.

It was a year and a week since Federer lifted his 40th career crown at a victory in Toronto. He began his run with a first title in Milan in February of 2001 as a teenager.

"My level lifted through the week," said Federer who ousted Australian Lleytown Hewitt in Saturday's semi-final.

On Sunday, he was untouchable in the opening set and rode a break in the seventh game of the second on his way to a 64-minute victory.

"My win on Saturday helped. It gave me confidence," Federer said. "James goes for a bit more and misses more. It's quite simple how you have to play against him. I hit a good ball and served well today."

Federer put his stamp on the match in emphatic fashion, starting with a pair of aces and breaking Blake for 2-0 before another quick hold.

The American put the Swiss under pressure in a fifth game which stretched to 21 points, with Federer saving three break points and taking a 4-1 lead with a forehand to the corner.

Federer seized control as he broke the American to love and then served out the set after earning a set point when a replay was required after a line official changed his call on what would have been a Blake winner.

The US challenger almost shot himself in the foot with four double-faults in the opening game of the second set, finally escaping with a hold. But his catch-up efforts were useless as Federer rolled to the triumph.

"It feels good to get back on American hardcourts," said Blake, who will play this week in New Haven.

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