On this day 10 years ago, Roger Federer beat James Blake 6-1 6-4 in Cincinnati final to lift his 50th ATP title, reaching another milestone in his already illustrious career. Roger became only the 9th players since the start of the Open era with 50 ATP titles, the first since Andre Agassi in 2002, and also the 5th youngest (26), behind Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. Swiss wasn't at his best in the previous rounds, scoring a tight win over Marcos Baghdatis and losing a set against Nicolas Almagro.
A day earlier, in the semi-final, Roger edged Lleyton Hewitt in the deciding tie break but he saved his best tennis for the final, toppling Blake in just 65 minutes for his 7th win in as many matches against James, losing just 1 set. For the past 4 years, Roger has been an unsolved riddle for the players from the USA (like almost for all the others) and this was his 35th consecutive win against the players from the most successful tennis nation! Andy Roddick beat him in the semi-final of Montreal in 2003 (read more about that match HERE) and they had to wait until Indian Wells 2008 to see another win when Mardy Fish took down Roger after an impressive performance.
Federer had 9 aces and his first serve worked well, but he wasn't that successful on the second, winning just 11 from 26 points and facing 5 break points. He saved them all to keep his serve intact and hold James under constant pressure in his games. American struggled to find his first serve and Roger took full advantage of that, winning 45% of the return points and breaking Blake 3 times from 6 chances for a commanding win in just over an hour. Federer had 25 winners and 19 unforced errors while James stayed on a negative 15-24 ratio, and he couldn't hope for a better result with numbers like these. The match was decided in the shortest points, where Roger had a huge advantage, serving better and also attacking more with his initial groundstroke, and they were pretty much even in the longer points.
The first break of the match came already in the second game, Roger found a nice rhythm on return right from the start and he grabbed the lead with a nice forehand attack. James got his name on the scoreboard with a solid hold in game 4 and Roger had to dig deep in the next game to stay in front, holding after 10 minutes and 3 break points saved. Blake missed an easy forehand to give away the first break point and Roger saved the second with a service winner. It was a rollercoaster ride in the following points as well, with the result going back and forth, and Federer saved the last break point with a nice smash, bringing the game home after a sharp volley at the net. This gave him a huge boost and he broke at love in game 6 to open up a 5-1 lead, moving just a game away from the opening set. He wrapped it up with another good hold after just 26 minutes and only one set stood between him and his 14th Masters 1000 crown.
Instead of regrouping, James faced more troubles on his serve in the opening game of the set but he fends off 3 break points with winners for an eventual hold, which was very important for him. American did found his zone on serve in the following games, cracking a nice backhand cross court winner to go 3-2 in front, and Roger was following that pace easily in his service games. The crucial moment occurred in game 7 when Roger broke to take the advantage, and the match was fully in his hands now. Saying that, James earned 2 break points in the next game, that could get him back on the track.
Federer stayed calm and saved both with good attacks, sealing the game with 2 service winners and moving just a game away from the title. Blake held easily in game 9 to reduce the deficit to 5-4 but Roger served for the win in the following game. He went 15-30 down after a great backhand from Blake, only to grab the next 3 points, clinching the match with an ace on the T line for his milestone 50th ATP crown.