After a dominating display in 2004 and 2005, Roger Federer went even further in 2006. The Swiss claimed 12 titles and 92 wins from 97 matches, placing him well ahead of Rafael Nadal and other rivals in a one-man show. Roger won three Majors and four Masters 1000 crowns to extend his incredible journey.
The Swiss won the last 29 games of the season after Cincinnati’s loss to Andy Murray. Federer was the last man standing at the US Open, Tokyo, Madrid, Basel and the ATP Finals in Shanghai, where he regained the trophy lost to David Nalbandian in a thrilling final a year ago.
Interestingly, Federer lost the first set against Nalbandian in the 2006 ATP Finals campaign before scoring a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory. The second round-robin clash was even more challenging, as Roger defeated Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in two and a half hours.
The Swiss fended off three match points in the second set to extend his winning streak. He posted a 7-6, 6-4 win over Ivan Ljubicic to top the group standings and set up Rafael Nadal’s clash in the semifinals. Rafa fought well after defeating Roger four times that year.
Still, it wasn’t enough to dominate the Swiss on an indoor court, with world no. 1 claiming a 6-4, 7-5 triumph in one hour and 53 minutes. Federer advanced to his fourth straight ATP Finals title clash, becoming the first player to do so since Ivan Lendl in 1987!
Federer defeated James Blake 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes on November 19 for the third title at this event in the past four years. It was the sixth meeting between Roger and James and the sixth victory for the Swiss, already his fourth and most dominant in 2006.
The American had a great season behind him. He played in the round of 16 and stood alongside Rafael Nadal and Nikolay Davydenko despite losing the chance to lift the sixth title in the biggest clash of his career. Roger was a player on a mission that day, winning 33 more points than his opponent and defending 10 of 11 break point chances in three different service games.
Roger Federer claimed his third ATP Finals title in four years in 2006.
Blake hit just four aces and dropped half the points in his games to play against 13 break chances and suffer six breaks. He made the worst start and failed to convert chances he created later in the match.
They had a similar number of unforced errors. However, Roger was much more efficient in the winners department, hitting nearly 40 and keeping Blake under 20. The Swiss consolidated his backhand to have the advantage in most exchanges, hitting 30 winners to 16. of the American
The former champion carved out the lead on shorter points and an even bigger one in mid-range exchanges, where he completely silenced Blake’s forehand. The more experienced player started the match with a break in the second game and cemented it with three winners in the next for a 3-0 lead.
James was up 40-15 in the fourth game. Still, he still hadn’t put his name on the scoreboard after suffering another break thanks to Roger’s game-winning backhand. The Swiss fended off five break chances a few minutes later and closed out the game with a service winner to keep his serve intact.
The set ended after Federer’s winning comeback at 5-0, wrapping up the first half of the match in 26 minutes and setting the stage for the remaining sets. Roger fell for a serve winner early in the second set and missed a chance to clinch the eighth straight game after blowing two break chances in the second game.
James might have moved up front for the first time, but Roger stayed focused in the third game and denied four break chances, three on winners, to keep his serve intact. Gaining momentum, Federer opened a 3-1 gap after breaking Blake and clinched the set with a forehand winner at 5-3, looking strong and determined to finish the job in set number three.
The third game of the third set secured another break for Roger, outpointing James in the backhand exchange to win all four points and take another big step towards the finish line. Blake saved a break chance the next time he served to avoid an even more significant deficit.
Federer secured that second break with a backhand winner down the line in the seventh game, jumping out to a 5-2 lead and serving for the title. That turned out to be Roger’s worst service game in the entire match. He threw a forehand error to break at 15 before Blake cut the deficit to 4-5 with four winners in game nine.
There were no mistakes from Federer in the tenth game, delivering four winners to take the set 6-4 and end his 2006 duties with the ATP Finals trophy in his hands.