After another thrilling 2005 season that brought 81 wins from 85 matches and 11 ATP titles by his name, Roger Federer was ready to rumble in the next one as well, opening the 2006 campaign with the trophies in Doha and Melbourne before losing to Rafael Nadal in the Dubai final.
The Swiss arrived in Indian Wells as the two-time defending champion and the favorite for another crown, proving his hard-court dominance by losing one set in six encounters for the 36th ATP trophy. Roger took down Nicolas Massu, Olivier Rochus, Richard Gasquet, Ivan Ljubicic and Paradorn Srichaphan to secure the place in the final on March 19, toppling James Blake 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 in the title match to become the first player in the history of the tournament with three consecutive titles!
The encounter lasted an hour and 43 minutes, and it was their third meeting, with Roger taking them all in straight sets. Federer lost his serve twice, although that didn't cost him much after a rock-solid performance on the return, stealing 53% of the points on Blake's serve and creating 16 break chances, converting seven to seal the deal in the last best-of-five Indian Wells final.
Federer took charge and marched towards the finish line after a tight opening set, hitting more winners and fewer unforced errors than his rival and forcing many mistakes with his sharp and aggressive groundstrokes. The American couldn't find the zone with his serve and initial forehand, trailing big time in the shortest rallies up to four strokes and allowing Federer to have the upper hand in the mid-range and most extended exchanges to bring the victory home in a strong way.
James earned the first break in the third game when Roger sent a forehand long, scoring another one at 3-1 to race into a massive lead and gather momentum.
Roger Federer defeated James Blake in 2006 Indian Wells final.
Facing a mountain to climb if he wanted to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard, the Swiss began the chase with a break at love in game six, reducing the deficit and gaining momentum before the rest of the set.
James built a 5-3 advantage with a service winner in game eight, serving for the opener at 5-4. Federer created three break points that Blake successfully fended off before hitting a double fault on the fourth break chance to draw Roger back into contention, with the Swiss leveling the score at 5-5.
The momentum was now on the side of the defending champion, who broke the American at love in game 12 to grab the opener 7-5, rattling off four straight games to gain the advantage and never looking back. Federer sailed through his service games in set number two and stole James' serve in game eight with a volley winner, opening a 5-3 gap and serving for the set.
A backhand winner sealed the deal for him in another comfortable service game, opening a 7-5, 6-3 advantage and having a big chance to clinch the match in the next set. Blake had nothing more left in the tank, and Federer claimed that part of the encounter 6-0, finishing the job with a service winner to celebrate his third consecutive title at Indian Wells after winning 14 of the last 17 games, racing towards the finish line and the record books.