Federer blitzes Blake to claim third Masters title
November 24, 2006 7:43pm CST
World number one Roger Federer rounded off a near-perfect season by demolishing James Blake to take his third Masters Cup title in straight sets. The 2003 and 2004 champion blasted the bottom seed to love in the first set and produced immaculate tennis throughout, winning 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. The victory underlined Federer's dominance after his best year yet, winning three out of four Grand Slam finals plus another eight regular-season events, finishing with staggering figures of 92-5. The 25-year-old is also assured of overhauling Jimmy Connors' 1974-1977 record for consecutive weeks as world number one when he reaches 161 weeks on February 26. "I think that is definitely one of the big records I've broken, maybe the biggest so far in my career," he said. 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 number four ranking, making him the top US player. "Today there was nothing I could have done. He played too good," said the American. "I've probably run out of adjectives to talk about his excellence. He's unbelievable and he steps it up in finals." 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. "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." 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 raced to three championship points in his next game, calmly converting the first with a service winner. Federer 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. The Swiss, who lost last year's classic final to David Nalbandian, becomes the first player to surpass eight million dollars in season earnings, taking home 1,520,000 dollars to boost his year's total to 8,343,885 dollars. His 29th consecutive victory makes him the first man to bag three year-ending championships since Pete Sampras completed his haul of five in 1999. 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, the world number two and three.