Roger Federer Wins Third Tennis Masters Cup Title
No wonder Roger Federer preferred to play James Blake in the final over David Nalbandian, one of only two players to take a set from Roger at this event. Before play began, this is what I wrote in my preview:
If PR doesn’t redeem his end-of-year blemish in last year’s final and isn’t hoisting his third Masters Cup on November 19, I may have to stop writing for a week. And I’ve little doubt PR won’t hesitate to tell us just how fabulous he is, and just how unbelievably he played, and just how much he deserves his 12th title of 2006.
Well, this is what the Swiss World No. 1 said after his ruthless 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 destruction of James Blake in a final that seemed to go so fast, I got whiplash just watching it from the computer screen:
“It’s quite incredible. To finish off the season by winning the Masters Cup is really, for me. It’s obviously the perfect ending to an incredible season.
“There’s not much more I could have done. I gave myself the best possible chance basically at every event. To come out like this, on top, I surprised even myself.
“I had to laugh at one stage how well I was playing, I always came up with a great answer, you know. I was in control pretty much all the time.
“It’s quite surprising to come out and beat a fellow top 5 in the finals so convincing.
“Everything I wanted to do worked. To come to this point in my career where I feel so happy with my game, it’s come such a long way, you know, that I also am out of words really to describe this performance.”
Uh, no you’re not.
And Blake, true to form, responded in kind.
“I really appreciate the support — whether I’m playing well or being given a lesson by Roger. Roger is the best of the best, not only this week but maybe in the history of the game.
“I’m honored to be considered one of his colleagues. It’s so great watching him play.”
Which was exactly what you did. On the court. It’s honorable to be gracious in defeat and all that, but c’mon.
Blake was overwhelmed from the start and became utterly demoralized as he watched Roger’s 41 winners whiz by. Arguably the fastest man on tour, James found himself flat-footed and frozen in the midst of the blizzard. Yes, Roger is the best player in the world and does everything better than James, but to see James just standing there without even trying to chase down balls was mindboggling. This wasn’t an exhibition, but that’s exactly what it appeared to be.
And James was a voyeur.
Members of the Chinese crowd, who sat on the edges of their seats for every match of the event, so fully engaged they were in every point, collectively sighing and moaning and gasping and shrieking, were often eerily silent as Roger struck winner after winner into the corners, picking up balls off his feet and redirecting them down the line, up the line, wickedly angled, and over Blake’s head. Blake’s shots had so little pace on them tonight, they more times than not just sat right up for Federer to pummel. Roger’s backhand, to me, has become more of weapon than his forehand.
I couldn’t stop shaking my head.
In Blake’s defense, he had to be overwhelmed just by making the final, a commendable accomplishment on his debut appearance. Besides, there wasn’t a huge chance he’d be able to repeat what he produced against David Nalbandian. But I could always hope. Still, I have to wonder if his regard for Federer, which borders on cultic, also locked up his feet.
As for Roger: one does run out of superlatives to describe his best form. A message-board buddy said that the “FedBot” would take this final with ease while the real Roger would already be headed to Korea to play his exhibition against Rafael Nadal. I laughed when she put it that way, but lo and behold, there was something eerily prescient in her irreverent description — sometimes Roger doesn’t seem to be human out there.
Well, the fluid FedBot has just become the first player in history to earn more than $8 million in prize money in a single season, posting an incredible 92-5 record with 12 titles, and winning his 29th match in a row, the second longest winning-streak of his career. He also became the first player to win three season-ending championships since 7-time winner Pete Sampras, that other great champion to whom he’s often compared.
Roger Federer adds his name to an illustrious Honor Roll of tennis legends, including Sampras, who’ve all won at least three year-end titles: Ivan Lendl (5-time winner), Boris Becker (4-time winner), Ilie Nastase (4-time winner), and John McEnroe (3-time winner).
Fed's Magic Numbers