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Federer proves he's the master in Shanghai

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Roger Federer has taken his third Tennis Masters title, beating James Blake of the United States in three sets in Sunday's final in the Chinese city.

The victory crowns a season in which the Basel player has won 92 matches and lost only five.

Federer won the final with seeming ease 6-0, 6-3, 6-4, underlining his absolute dominance of men's tennis.

The world number one had won the opening match last Sunday against Argentina's defending champion David Nalbandian 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 to avenge his defeat in last year's final.

And although he was almost upset by US player Andy Roddick on Tuesday, Federer was in top form as he took on the world's elite.

"It's quite incredible to finish off by winning the Masters Cup, the world championship so to speak," Federer said. "It's obviously a perfect end to an incredible season.

"I had to laugh at one stage. I was playing so well, everything I tried today worked."

Not lacking effort

In the final, Blake did not lack in effort and had 11 break points but Federer glided around the court to save all but one of them.

Federer took the championship when his opponent netted a service return after just one hour and 37 minutes.

Blake, now 0-6 overall against Federer, was overcome in the 26-minute opening set.

He sat in his courtside chair with his shaved head in hands, apparently wondering what to do next.

In the second set, he had a breakpoint chance in the third game and rifled a deep return at the baseline. But Federer picked up the half-volley on his backhand side and turned it into a winner, leaving Blake shrugging at the net.

By the third set, even Blake was applauding some of Federer's winners.

"I appreciate the support you gave me when I was playing great, or when Roger was giving me a lesson," Blake told the crowd at Qi Zhong Stadium. "I'm honoured to be considered a colleague of his."

The Swiss was unbeaten in the tournament and so addded $1.52 million (SFr1.89 million) to his year's prize money to become the first player to earn more than $8 million in a season, with a total of $8,343,885.

On Saturday Federer had overpowered Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-4, 7-5 in a showdown of the number one and two seeds.

During the season, Federer lost four times to Nadal in finals and to Scotland's Andy Murray in the second round at Cininatti in August.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Federer, who won the Grand Slams in Australia, the United States and Winbledon this year, extended his winning streak to 29 matches.
He also set a new high for ranking points held at any time by a player with 8,370.
He has accumulated enough points to ensure that he will break Jimmy Connor's record of 160 consecutive weeks as world number on February 26 next year.

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In brief

The Tennis Masters Cup brings together the world's top eight players for an end-of-year showdown. This year it took place from November 12-19.

Winner of the Masters in 2003 and 2004, Federer was beaten last year by the Argentine David Nalbandian.

After Sunday's final, Federer had won 92 matches this season and lost only five.

The Swiss is the first since Ivan Lendl (106-9) to have won more than 90 matches in a season. He is also the first since Lendl to have reached the Masters final four years in a row. Lendl made it nine in a row till 1988.

Federer finishes the season as world number one for the third consecutive year.

When he arrived in China, Federer announced he would not be playing for Switzerland in the first round of the Davis Cup in February against Spain in Geneva. He said he wanted to concentrate on the defence of his number one ranking and the four Grand Slam tournaments.

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