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Federer ends year with Masters title
Steve Keating | November 22, 2004 11:23 IST
Last Updated: November 22, 2004 13:39 IST
World number one Roger Federer capped one of the finest seasons in tennis history by successfully defending his Masters Cup crown with a devastating 6-3 6-2 final win over Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Swiss collected a first prize of $1.52 million and a new luxury car and now heads for a well-earned holiday to savour a memorable campaign during which he lifted 11 titles, including the Wimbledon, U.S. and Australian Open Grand Slams.
"This is a wonderful end for me," Federer told reporters. "This has been an incredible season, a great, fantastic season.
"It's a fairy-tale ending, to leave for vacation with great feelings and great memories."
After a day of steady rain that threatened to delay the match until Monday and shortened the season finale from a best-of-five to best-of-three sets encounter, Federer put on a sparkling display to speed to victory in just over an hour.
The win was Federer's 22nd in a row against a top-10 ranked opponent, a run stretching back to last year's Masters Cup.
Six of those victories have come at Hewitt's expense this season, including a straight-sets thrashing in the final of the U.S. Open.
Having not played since straining his left thigh preparing for his home tournament in Basel a month ago, Federer's fitness had been the big question mark hanging over the event.
Federer, though, proved he was back to his sublime best by sweeping into the final.
Hewitt was also playing his best tennis since winning back-to-back Masters titles in 2001 and 2002, and with one last chance of taking revenge on the Swiss, the fiery Australian did not lack for motivation.
Rain delayed the start by three hours but did nothing to dull Federer, who won the opening game to love before breaking Hewitt with a stinging forehand winner to go 2-0 up.
The Federer express stalled when rain again swept over the Westside Tennis Club to send the players to the locker room with the world number one leading 5-2.
Returning to the court an hour and 17 minutes later, Federer quickly wrapped up the set.
The Swiss held three break points at the start of the second set but Hewitt would not go down without a fight, tenaciously holding serve.
Federer then stormed to victory by reeling off the last five games, including two breaks, to secure his second Masters title.
"He doesn't give you any cheap points," said Hewitt. "He's very tough, he's got great rhythm.
"This week my game's been good enough to beat nearly everyone but one guy. The last two big tournaments, the U.S. Open and here, the only guy I've run into who's been better has been Roger Federer.
"The last year and a half he's taken it to another level. (Andre) Agassi and (Pete) Sampras on their day were pretty awesome players and Roger is definitely up there."