INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Roger Federer thought James Blake's
play early in their match looked familiar.
"He played aggressively, took the ball early, put away his
forehands when he could, didn't miss on the backhand, made me run
around," Federer said. "That's usually what I do. He gave me a
little bit of my own medicine."
Only a small dose, as it turned out.
After falling behind 4-1 in the opening set, the top-ranked
Federer came back to beat Blake 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 Sunday for his
unprecedented third consecutive Pacific Life Open championship.
"He really got the better of me in the beginning, so I had to
react and not panic," Federer said. "I did a good job there.
"In the end, I played fantastic tennis, with some great shots
once again. To pull them off in a final, it's always a nice
feeling. The form is excellent right now."
The championship signaled that Federer is back in top form
following his lone loss of the year, to Rafael Nadal in Dubai this
month. With the Indian Wells title, Federer kept intact his
personal record of having never lost finals in consecutive
Blake, No. 14 and assured of moving into the top 10 for the
first time when the rankings come out this week, said Federer
simply turned it on after he fell behind.
"Along with a couple of mistakes by me at the end of that first
set, he really picked his level up and played unbelievably, put
pressure on all my service games, was kind of cruising on his,"
"Instead of making him come up with a great passing shot, I
went for too much, ended up missing, gave him freebies. You can't
do that against the No. 1 player in the world."
Even Blake was smiling when the match ended, shaking Federer's
hand and giving him a pat on the back.
Federer won for the 25th time in his 36 tournaments dating to
the start of 2004. He is 22-1 this year and his three titles
include the Australian Open, his seventh Grand Slam championship.
After Blake broke his service twice in the first set to take the
4-1 lead, Federer broke back in the sixth game and held serve in
the seventh. Then the American held in the next to go up 5-3.
Federer won his serve in the ninth.
Then Blake, serving for the set, was at deuce when he
double-faulted twice in a row to make it 5-5. The rest of the match
essentially was all Federer.
The 26-year-old Blake, a former Harvard star, won titles at
Sydney and Las Vegas, and upset Nadal in straight sets in the
Indian Wells semifinals.
Blake, who also won both his matches in the United States'
first-round Davis Cup victory over Romania last month, is 19-5 this
Maria Sharapova won the Indian Wells women's title Saturday with
a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Elena Dementieva. The men's doubles
champions were Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor, who defeated twins
Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-4; and Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur
took the women's doubles championship, 6-2, 7-5 over Virginia Ruano
Pascual and Meghann Shaughnessy.