Federer masters Ferrer in Shanghai

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The Independent Online

The men's world No 1, Roger Federer, hailed 2007 as a "breakthrough year" after defending his Tennis Masters Cup title in Shanghai yesterday.

The Swiss brushed aside the Spaniard David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 for his fourth win at the season-ending showpiece in five years.

Ferrer had dropped only one set on his run to the final in his inaugural appearance in the season-ending event but he had no answer to Federer, who served nine aces and had a total of 30 winners to the Spaniard's 10. It capped an impressive turnaround by Federer, who began the tournament with a surprise defeat to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. He emphasised his position as the game's top player by not dropping a set in his remaining matches against Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, the world No 2 Rafael Nadal and Ferrer.

It also constituted Federer's eighth tournament win of a year which, ominously for the rest of the tour, the 26-year-old believes could have been his best yet.

"It's been a great season for me," said Federer, who has won all eight of his career meetings with Ferrer. "And finishing off the best players in the world in the Masters Cup, it's always a great experience for me.

"It's been in some ways a breakthrough year for me, especially the way I played at the beginning of the year, not losing a set during the Australian Open. And then coming here, beating everybody in straight sets after losing against Gonzalez when people thought, 'OK, Federer is maybe not playing so well.'

"Beating Nadal for the first time on clay... I've beaten all my closest rivals, Nadal and [the world No 3 Novak] Djokovic, more times than they have beaten me. It's been one of those years which I'm really, really happy about. Maybe I didn't win 10 titles but it's not necessary to stay No 1 in the world all the time. If I keep this level of play up, I'm in a great position for next year as well."

The Masters Cup was the 53rd tournament victory of Federer's career and made him the first player to win more than $10m (£4.9m) in a season.

Ferrer, who was cheered on all week by a vocal Spanish contingent, was the only player to make it through the group stages of the tournament unbeaten. Federer predicted he would be back at the showpiece tournament next year.

He said: "I'd like to congratulate David because he has the same amount of matches won as me. Have some rest and I'll see you again next year."