Forum Spin Doctor
SHANGHAI, China - Roger Federer overpowered Rafael Nadal 6-4, 7-5 Saturday, winning a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to reach the Masters Cup final for the fourth straight year. Federer awaited the winner of the other semifinal between David Nalbandian and James Blake. In group play, Federer defeated Nalbandian, who beat him in last year's final of this season-ending event. Federer and Blake have not met in this tournament, although the Swiss star has won all five of their matches.
The top-ranked Federer had the benefit of a day off Friday and reeled off three aces in the first game to set the tone. Nadal had only 24 hours between his last round-robin match and the semifinal, having secured his place against Federer with a victory Friday night against Nikolay Davydenko.
After losing five consecutive matches to Nadal, Federer has now won their past two meetings, including in the Wimbledon final. While Nadal has struggled since Wimbledon, failing to reach the semifinals anywhere other than the Masters Cup, Federer added the U.S. Open title for his ninth major championship.
Federer has advanced to the final in 16 of the 17 tournaments he's played this year, including all four Grand Slam events.
Federer has a 91-5 record this season going into the title match. He is the first man since Ivan Lendl (106-9 in 1982) to win more than 90 matches in a season. He's also the first since Lendl to make the final at four consecutive year-end championships. Lendl made nine in a row until 1988.
At this tournament, Federer became the first tennis player to surpass $7 million in prize money in a season. His 2006 winnings would be $8.34 million if he wins the final.
On Saturday, Federer dropped serve only once - when serving for the first set - and broke the Spaniard to end each set. He had two match points against Nadal's serve in the 10th game and set up another with a backhand down the line from a wide angle in the 12th. Federer closed with a cross-court forehand, sprinting from left to right to retrieve a drop shot and whip a winner.
His loss to Nadal in the French Open final was one of four to the Spaniard this season. His only other loss was to Scotland's Andy Murray in the second round at Cincinnati in August.
In doubles, Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor reached their first final in eight years at the Masters Cup and will face Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi for the championship.
Knowles and Nestor scored a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 semifinal victory Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett. Bjorkman and Mirnyi defeated Leander Paes and Martin Damm 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5).