Federer, Nalbandian Continue Rivalry in Masters Cup Final

Posted on November 20, 2005

Federer Double-Bagels Into Final Against Nalbandian

World No. 1 Roger Federer showed he was through playin' Saturday at the Masters Cup, shaking off a slew of tight matches and an ankle injury to humiliate Argentine Gaston Gaudio 6-0, 6-0 to advance into the final.

"I was looking for a very consistent, solid match, no lapses like I've had in the last couple of matches," Federer said. "It couldn't have been any more perfect today. It gives me great confidence for tomorrow, that's for sure. I knew that anything was possible."

While Federer was sharp, Gaudio looked overcome by the occasion in throwing in nine double faults and committing 22 unforced errors.

"No excuses," Gaudio said. "That was maybe the worst match I've played. I want to apologize to the crowd because I couldn't do anything...I was playing against a guy who is the best in history in a surface where he is so much better than me. There's not much to say."

In the final the Swiss will face an old nemesis in David Nalbandian, who looked equally impressive in defeating Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-0, 7-5.

Federer lost his first five pro meetings with Nalbandian, but since ascending to the upper echelon of players has won four straight against the Argentine who is equally comfortable on fast courts as clay.

Also working against Nalbandian will be his 0-4 career mark against No. 1-ranked players.

Federer is now one match win from tying John McEnroe's Open Era record season of 82-3 set in 1984.

Also on the line for Federer is his Open Era-record streak of wins in 24 consecutive finals dating to October 2003, and 35 match wins since losing to Rafael Nadal at the French Open this year.

The doubles final will be (5) Paes/Zimonjic (d. (3) Black/Ullyett in the semis) against Frenchman (6) Llodra/Santoro, who ousted the top-seeded and two-time defending champ Bryan brothers in straight sets.

"I mentioned to Nenad in November 2004 that we have the game to actually win a Grand Slam," Paes said. "This event here is as big, if not bigger, than a Grand Slam. Maybe this is our event to do really well in and then win. We've played really well so far coming into this tournament. I must tip my hat today to Nenad because he played superb tennis today."

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David Nalbandian
is the first Argentine to reach the Masters Cup final since Guillermo Vilas won the tournament in 1974...Nenad Zimonjic and Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro will partner in doubles for the 2006 season, and Leander Paes with Martin Damm...Sure Gaston Gaudio struggled on the fast surface against Roger Federer in the Masters Cup semifinals, but what does that have to do with double faulting four times in one game?...Former Jelena Dokic coach Craig Miller, speaking to Fox Sports, says the troubled former star will reach the Top 10 in 2006 if she returns to Australian citizenship: "Jelena has the ability to get back to the top again. She was very well supported when she was here, so I think it could only be a positive thing for her. She probably has a few knots that need untying in terms of her outlook towards the game. She has to let go of the baggage that's probably going on in her head and work towards her strength, which is her incredible groundstrokes."...From the AP: "Indian tennis star Sania Mirza insists she opposes premarital sex, a statement that came as crowds burned effigies of the 19-year-old Muslim over her earlier remarks advocating safe sex. Mirza already has been criticized for her tennis clothing, usually a short skirt and midriff-revealing T-shirt. Sections of orthodox Muslim clergy say she is leading astray young Muslims, especially girls. "I would like to clearly say on record that I could not possibly justify premarital sex, as it is a very big sin in Islam and one which I believe will not be forgiven by Allah," Mirza said Friday."