Tennis Masters Cup Final Notes - Blake v. Federer

Posted on November 18, 2006

FEDERER BIDS FOR THIRD MASTERS CUP TITLE
Roger Federer is attempting to win his third Tennis Masters Cup title in four years, having lost year’s final to David Nalbandian following victories at Houston in 2003-04. Victory would see him become the first man to win three year-end championships since Pete Sampras won the last of five ATP Tour World Championship titles in 1999. To date, only five men have won three or more year-end championships:

Player   No. of year-end titles Years won
Pete Sampras   5   1991, 1994, 1996-97, 1999
Ivan Lendl   5   1981-82, 1985-87
John McEnroe   4   1978, 1983-84
Ilie Nastase   4   1971-73, 1975
Boris Becker   3   1988, 1992, 1995

Federer is the first man to contest four consecutive finals at a year-end championship since Ivan Lendl, who reached a record nine finals in a row between 1980-1988.

FEDERER LOOKS TO SURPASS $8 MILLION BARRIER
Roger Federer, who became the first professional tennis player ever to earn $7 million prize money in a single season after his round-robin defeat of Andy Roddick on Tuesday, will set another new record surpassing $8 million if he goes on to win the Tennis Masters Cup title. Federer, who has earned $7,643,885 through his semifinal defeat of Rafael Nadal, will earn an additional $700,000 for victory in the final for a season total of $8,343,885.

BLAKE EYES DEBUT SUCCESS
James Blake is bidding to become the first player making their debut at a year-end event to win the title since Alex Corretja won the 1998 ATP Tour World Championship in Hanover. The American is the first debutant to reach a year-end final since Sebastian Grosjean was runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt at the 2001 Tennis Masters Cup Sydney. Blake was the last player to qualify for the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup field.

BLAKE GUARANTEES CAREER-HIGH ATP RANKING
James Blake’s semifinal victory over Rafael Nadal has guaranteed that he will finish 2006 on a career-high ranking of No. 4 irrespective of the result of Sunday’s final. Blake, whose previous best ranking was No. 5, will overtake Andy Roddick to become the highest ranked American on the year-end standings.

INDESIT ATP 2006 RACE UPDATE (through semifinals)
1. Roger Federer 1624 (if wins 1674)
2. Rafael Nadal 894
3. Nikolay Davydenko 565
4. James Blake 506 (if wins 556)
5. Ivan Ljubicic 499
6. Andy Roddick 483
7. Tommy Robredo 475
8. David Nalbandian 459 
9. Mario Ancic 412
10. Fernando Gonzalez 403
 
STANFORD ATP DOUBLES RACE UPDATE (through semifinals)
1. Bryan/Bryan 1200
2. Bjorkman/Mirnyi 1126 (if win 1176)
3. Knowles/Nestor 850 (if win 900)
4. Hanley/Ullyett 827 
5. Santoro/Zimonjic 682
6. Damm/Paes 637
7. Erlich/Ram 510
8. Fyrstenberg/Matkowski 435
9. Aspelin/Perry 416
10. Dlouhy/Vizner 392
DAY EIGHT FINAL MATCH-UPS

NO. 1 ROGER FEDERER (SUI) v NO. 8 JAMES BLAKE (USA)

Head-to-head: Federer leads 5-0
03 US Open Hard (O) R32 Roger Federer  63 76(4) 63
05 AMS Cincinnati Hard (O) R64 Roger Federer  76(3) 75
06 AMS Indian Wells Hard (O) F Roger Federer  75 63 60
06 AMS Miami Hard (O) QF Roger Federer  76(2) 64
06 US Open Hard (O) QF Roger Federer  76(7) 60 67(9) 64

Federer has won all five previous meetings between the two players for the loss of only one set.

FEDERER

Birthdate: August 8, 1981
YTD W-L: 91-5
YTD Titles: 11
YTD Prize money: $7,643,885
ATP Ranking: 1

Tournament History: Federer reached his fourth consecutive Tennis Masters Cup Final with a 64 75 victory over No. 2 Rafael Nadal. His overall Masters Cup win-loss record now stands at 21-2.

Federer won all three group matches to extend his unbeaten Tennis Masters Cup round-robin record to 15-0. He defeated defending champion David Nalbandian 36 61 61 in his first match, the second successive year he had beaten the Argentine in his opening contest. He then saved three match points to beat Andy Roddick 46 76(8) 64. In his final match he overcame Ivan Ljubicic 76(2) 64.

Federer is making his fifth consecutive Tennis Masters Cup appearance. After reaching the semifinals at Shanghai in 2002, he won consecutive titles at Houston in 2003-04, before his 14-match Masters Cup winning streak was ended in last year’s Shanghai final by Nalbandian.

Federer was honoured on court on Monday evening for his record-setting season, and presented with the INDESIT ATP 2006 Race trophy for finishing the year at No. 1.

Federer’s victory over Roddick on Tuesday saw him become the first professional player to earn $7 million prize money in a season.

Federer’s victory over Ljubicic on Thursday saw him become the first player in over 20 years to win 90 matches in a season. Ivan Lendl went 106-9 in 1982.

Federer has won all 21 matches played indoors this year, with his last indoor defeat coming in the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final. He is currently on a 28-match winning streak on all surfaces.

2006 Highlights:
W: Doha (d Monfils), Australian Open (d Baghdatis), AMS Indian Wells (d Blake), AMS Miami (d Ljubicic), Halle (d Berdych), Wimbledon (d Nadal), AMS Canada (d Gasquet), Tokyo (d Henman), US Open (d Roddick), AMS Madrid (d Gonzalez), Basel (d Gonzalez) F: Dubai (l Nadal), AMS Monte-Carlo (l Nadal), AMS Rome (l Nadal), Roland Garros (l Nadal)

2006 Review:
The Swiss superstar came into the Tennis Masters Cup with an ATP-best 11 titles in a career-high 15 finals... Became first player in Open Era to win at least 10 titles three straight years... Advanced to finals in 15 of 16 tournaments played (21 of 22 back to June 2005) during year and only time he failed to reach a final was Cincinnati where he lost in 2nd RD... Finished No. 1 for third straight season and only fifth player since 1973 to end year at No. 1 at least three consecutive years... Became first player to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a year since Rod Laver in 1969 and going back to 2005 Wimbledon, advanced to six straight Slam finals, first player to accomplish that feat since Laver in 1961-62... Also joined Laver as only players to win at least three Grand Slam titles twice in a season (Laver won Grand Slam in 1962, '69)... Going back to June 2005, advanced to 17 consecutive finals, second-best behind Ivan Lendl's 18 straight final appearances in 1981-82... His five losses came to two players -- No. 2 Nadal in finals of Dubai in March, ATP Masters Series Monte-Carlo in April, ATP Masters Series Rome in May and Roland Garros in June and to Andy Murray in 2nd RD of Cincinnati in August... His loss to Murray ended a 55-match winning streak in North America... He also won a record 29 consecutive ATP Masters Series matches since Hamburg in May 2005 (along w/Cincinnati, ’06 Indian Wells, Miami) before Nadal ended streak with his four-set win in Monte-Carlo… Had also won nine consecutive Masters Series finals since 2004... Began year with a repeat title in Doha (d. Monfils) without dropping a set, followed with his third straight Grand Slam crown at Australian Open (d. Baghdatis) and became first player since Pete Sampras in 1993-94 to win three consecutive Slam titles… Returned to action in Dubai and reached final, only to lose to Nadal in three sets…The loss broke his Open Era record 56-match hard court winning streak going back to '05 Australian Open. (l. to Safin in SF)… Moved on to Indian Wells and became first player to win three straight tournament titles (d. Blake)… Then in Miami, defeated Ljubicic in three tie-breaks to repeat his title… Made clay court debut in Monte-Carlo and lost only one set en route to his first final (d. Ferrer in QF, Gonzalez in SF) before losing to Nadal in three hours and 50 minutes... In his next clay court showing in Rome, held two match points against Nadal before falling in a fifth set tie-break in a five hour and five minute marathon... Went into Roland Garros and dropped only two sets en route to his first final in Paris, only to fall in four sets to defending champion Nadal... Then in Halle won four of his five matches in three sets to capture Germany's grass court tournament for a fourth straight year and tie Bjorn Borg's grass court record of 41 consecutive matches won... Saved four match points in his QF victory over O. Rochus... At All England Club dropped his only set to Nadal in title match to capture his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and join Sampras (7 overall) and Borg (5) as only players to win at least four straight crowns in Open Era... Went undefeated on grass (12-0) for fourth straight year and owns longest grass court winning streak (48)... Returned after Wimbledon and captured ATP Masters Series Toronto title (d. Gasquet)... At US Open, became first player to win three straight US Open titles since Lendl in 1985-87 with his four-set win over Roddick... Then helped his country to '07 Davis Cup World Group with three wins against Serbia... Returned to tour play in Tokyo and captured title (d. Henman) before heading into European indoor circuit... Captured his sixth different ATP Masters Series title in Madrid (d. Gonzalez) and followed with his first hometown title in Basel (d. Gonzalez)... Has ranked No. 1 every week since Feb. 2, 2004, the third-longest consecutive streak (146 as of Nov. 13) behind Jimmy Connors (160) and Ivan Lendl (157)… Will break Connors' mark if he remains No. 1 until Feb. 26, 2007... Stands fifth in Total Weeks at No. 1 behind Sampras (286), Lendl (270), Connors (268), John McEnroe (170), and Federer (146).

BLAKE

Birthdate: December 28, 1979
YTD W-L: 59-24
YTD Titles: 5
YTD Prize money: $1,894,295
ATP Ranking: 8

Tournament History: Blake defeated defending champion David Nalbandian 64 61 to reach the Tennis Masters Cup final on his debut in the event. He is the first player to reach a year-end final on their debut since Sebastian Grosjean at the Tennis Masters Cup Sydney in 2001.

Blake won the Gold Group despite losing his final round-robin match to Tommy Robredo 62 36 75. He defeated No. 2 Rafael Nadal 64 76(0) in his opening match, before beating No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko 26 64 75.

2006 Highlights:
W: Sydney (d Andreev), Las Vegas (d Hewitt), Indianapolis (d Roddick), Bangkok (d Ljubicic), Stockholm
(d Nieminen) F: AMS Indian Wells (l Federer), London/Queen’s Club (l Hewitt) QF: AMS Miami (l Federer); US Open (l Federer)

2006 Review:
The American compiled his best season to guarantee a Top 10 year-end finish and capturing five ATP titles (on three continents) in seven finals...   Finished second on ATP circuit with five titles (along w/ Davydenko, Nadal) behind Federer (11)... Also helped his country to Davis Cup SF before losing to Russia in Moscow... In January, won title in Sydney with wins over Russians Davydenko in SF and Andreev in final in a third set tie-break... Followed with a 3rd RD at Australian Open (l. to Robredo)... Helped U.S. to a 4-1 first round Davis Cup victory over Romania by winning both of his singles matches... After back-to-back first round indoor losses in San Jose and Memphis, rebounded back with his fifth career ATP title in Las Vegas in March, defeating No. 10 Hewitt in a three-set final... It was his first career Top 10 win in an ATP final... Broke into Top 10 on Mar. 20 after reaching his first ATP Masters Series final in Indian Wells (l. to Federer)... Became first African-American to rank in Top 10 since Arthur Ashe on Jan. 21, 1980... Then followed with a QF in Miami (l. to Federer)... In March, named 2005 ATP Comeback Player of Year... From August 2005 to October 2006, captured seven ATP titles in ten finals... Prior to that had a career winning mark of .534 with one title and three runner-up showings... Began April by losing both singles rubbers in U.S. 3-2 victory over Chile in Davis Cup QF, including 10-8 in fifth set loss to Gonzalez... In May, advanced to 3rd RD at AMS Hamburg (d. Moya, Murray, l. to Ancic)... Fell to another Croat, No. 4 Ljubicic, in third-set tie-break the following week in Dusseldorf... Turned in best showing at Roland Garros with 3rd RD showing (l. to Monfils in five sets)... At Queen’s, defeated Gimelstob, Ginepri, Monfils and Roddick before falling to in final to Hewitt... Reached 3rd RD at Wimbledon (l. to Mirnyi) and fell to 0-9 in career in five sets... Claimed third title of season by defeating Roddick in Indianapolis... Struggled with a 3-4 record over next four US Open Series appearances, including opening round exit as defending champion in New Haven... Failed to convert five match points in loss to Ramirez-Hidalgo... Played well at US Open with repeat QF result (l. to Federer in four sets), went 1-1 in Davis Cup SF and then won first Asian title in Bangkok (d. Ljubicic)... Followed with repeat title in Stockholm (d. Nieminen).


NO. 2 JONAS BJORKMAN (SWE)/MAX MIRNYI (BLR) v NO. 3 MARK KNOWLES (BAH)/DANIEL NESTOR (CAN) 

Head-to-head: level at 4-4
05 AMS Indian Wells Hard (O) SF Knowles/Nestor  67(8) 63 64
05 AMS Miami  Hard (O) SF Bjorkman/Mirnyi 67(3) 76(3) 75
05 AMS Cincinnati Hard (O) SF Bjorkman/Mirnyi 63 64
06 AMS Indian Wells Hard (O) SF Knowles/Nestor 76(5) 61
06 AMS Rome  Clay (O) SF Knowles/Nestor 63 76(5)
06 Queen’s  Grass (O) SF Bjorkman/Mirnyi 67(5) 76(4) [10-7]
06 AMS Madrid Hard (I) SF Knowles/Nestor 64 64
06 TMC Shanghai Hard (I) RR Bjorkman/Mirnyi 46 64 76(2)

This is the pair’s second meeting at this year’s Tennis Masters Cup.  Knowles and Nestor are looking to avenge a three-set defeat by Bjorkman and Mirnyi in their second group match.

Both teams lost all three round-robin matches at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.

BJORKMAN/MIRNYI

Tournament History: Bjorkman and Mirnyi are contesting their second Tennis Masters Cup as a team, having lost all three round-robin matches here in 2005. Both players are making their fourth straight Tennis Masters Cup appearance. Bjorkman is appearing in his second season-ending doubles final, having won the 1994 ATP Tour World Doubles Championship in Jakarta with compatriot Jan Apell.

Bjorkman and Mirnyi have reached the final undefeated. They won the Gold Group with three group wins, defeating Marius Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 63 64, today’s opponents Knowles and Nestor 46 64 76(2), and Fabrice Santoro and Nenad Zimonjic 63 76(7). In the semifinals they defeated Martin Damm and Leander Paes 67(4) 76(4) 76(5) in 3 hours 17 minutes.

2006 Review:
The two-time Roland Garros champions and US Open runners-up gave the Bryans a close contest for No. 1 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race throughout the season... Won Doha in first tournament of 2006 to assume the top position and regained the No. 1 spot for a couple weeks following successful title defense at Roland Garros, defeating the Bryans in a repeat of the 2005 final... Excelled at ATP Masters Series events, claiming back-to-back titles in Miami and Monte-Carlo and picked up their third AMS shield of the season by defending Cincinnati... Also advanced to the SF in Indian Wells, Rome and Madrid, falling to Knowles and Nestor on each occasion, and at ATP Masters Series Paris... Both players picked up titles outside of the partnership: Bjorkman in San Jose (w/ John McEnroe) and Bastad (w/ Thomas Johansson), Mirnyi in Stuttgart (w/ Gaston Gaudio)... Bjorkman owns 49 career doubles titles, the most among active players... The only top tandem with both players ranked in the Top 100 of the singles rankings... Individually, Bjorkman reached Nottingham final (l. to Gasquet) and made a remarkable run to Wimbledon SF (l. to Federer), his best career singles showing at a Grand Slam event.

KNOWLES/NESTOR

Tournament History: Knowles and Nestor are looking for their first year-end title in their eighth appearance at a season-ending championship. They are contesting only their second year-end final, having reached the final at the ATP Tour World Doubles Championship in Hartford, Connecticut in 1998. The pair were semifinalists at the Tennis Masters Cup Houston in 2003 and 2004, but lost all three round-robin matches at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.

Knowles and Nestor qualified from the Gold Group in second place with two group wins. They defeated Fabrice Santoro and Nenad Zimonjic 63 62, then lost to Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi 46 64 76(2), before defeating Marius Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 63 63.  In the semifinals, they defeated Red Group winners Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett 46 61 63.

2006 Review:
In their first 13 tournament appearances of 2006, either lost in their opener or reached the title match, amassing a finals win-loss record of 4-3 during the span... Reached four consecutive finals beginning with the Delray Beach title in February, followed by runner-up finishes in Marseille and Dubai, and then collected their 15th career ATP Masters Series shield by winning in Indian Wells... In consecutive tournament appearances, captured clay court titles in Barcelona and at ATP Masters Series Rome and reached the final at ATP Masters Series Hamburg... Did not reach another title match until October, when they advanced to the ATP Masters Series Madrid final for the fourth time in five years... Reached the final the following week, winning the title in Basel... Canadian Nestor owns 46 career titles and Bahamian Knowles has 44 titles, ranking them second and third among active players... The two have won an ATP title together in 12 of the last 13 years... They finished as the No. 1 doubles team in 2002 and 2004.