Top-ranked Federer too much for Blake, takes Masters title

Published November 20, 2006

SHANGHAI, China - James Blake learned what has become a fact of life on the tennis tour.

"Obviously, we're all chasing Roger," he said. "It's no secret. He's playing head and shoulders above the rest of us."

Looking more imposing with every tournament, Roger Federer concluded another overpowering season Sunday by routing Blake 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 for his third Masters Cup title.

The Swiss star has been ranked No. 1 since Feb. 2, 2004, and has enough points to ensure he'll break Jimmy Connors' record of 160 consecutive weeks atop the rankings by the end of February. Only two players - Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray - beat Federer this year.

He finished the season with 12 titles and 16 finals appearances from his 17 tournaments, winning $8.34-million. Already the first player to exceed $7-million in prize money in a season, Federer earned $1.52-million for his unbeaten run in Shanghai.

"To finish it off by winning the Masters Cup, the world championship so to speak, it's the perfect ending to an incredible season," Federer said. "There's not much more I could have done."

No argument from Blake, who needed 34 minutes to score.

"I did my best, and he was just a level above," said Blake, a Tampa resident. He finished the year at a career-high No. 4 after entering the Masters Cup as the eighth-ranked and last qualifier.

Less than 24 hours after Federer dismantled Nadal in the semifinals, he took Blake apart. Blake didn't hold serve until the second game of the second set. Even then he had to save two break points.

"I've probably run out of adjectives to describe him on the court to talk about his excellence," Blake said. "He's just unbelievable."


British Columbia bests Montreal in Grey Cup

Paul McCallum kicked a Grey Cup record-tying six field goals to lead the British Columbia Lions over the Montreal Alouettes 25-14 in the league championship in Winnipeg.

Ian Smart scored a touchdown for the Lions, who had the best regular-season record and won their fifth Cup. It is their first title since beating Montreal in 2000.

Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson was chosen as the game's outstanding player after going 18-for-29 for 184 yards. He also ran for 53.

"I was going to do what it takes," he said. "We just feel we deserved it. We were the best team all year. In my opinion, the best team won."


HORSES: McDynamo, the only American steeplechaser to top $1-million in career earnings, won the Colonial Cup for the third time in four years. The victory at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., all but clinched a third Eclipse Award for the 9-year-old gelding.

MODERN PENTATHLON: Marta Dziadura of Poland won the women's gold at the world championships in Guatemala City. The event features shooting, fencing, swimming, horse jumping and running.

VOLLEYBALL: The U.S. men won for the first time at the world championships in Japan, defeating the Czech Republic. The Americans hold fifth place in Group C. The top four from each of the four six-team groups advance to the second round.


Kenyan wins marathon, barely missing record

Kenya's Hosea Kimutai won the Philadelphia Marathon, narrowly missing a course record.

Kimutai pulled away from a pack of three runners at the 18-mile mark and went on to finish in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 9 seconds. That was 22 seconds off the record for a 26.2-mile race.

Russian Maryina Bychkova won the women's title with a personal best 2:40.31.

ELSEWHERE: Reiko Tosa led a Japanese sweep, easily winning the Tokyo International Women's Marathon. Tosa, fifth in the Athens Olympics, finished in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 15 seconds, followed by Akemi Ozaki and defending champion Naoko Takahashi.