Phenomenal Roger Federer shows no signs of slowing down just yet

Swiss master's taste for success continues despite age

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The years pass by but Roger Federer’s appetite for success remains undiminished. There are not many titles that have eluded him and the Shanghai Rolex Masters is no longer one of them after the 33-year-old beat France’s Gilles Simon  7-6, 7-6 in the final here.

It could be the start of a memorable autumn for the Swiss, who will today replace Rafael Nadal at No 2 in the world rankings. He will go to London next month hoping to win the year-end title for the seventh time at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, after which he will be aiming to get his hands on the one major jewel missing from his crown when he leads Switzerland into the Davis Cup final against France.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion could even replace Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings by the end of the year. Although Federer, given his busy schedule, might be tempted to skip the final Masters Series event in Paris, Djokovic might miss a tournament or two given the imminent birth of his first child.

After Federer ended Djokovic’s 28-match winning run in China in the semi-finals here on Saturday, the Serb said his opponent was playing as well as ever. Federer may be 33 – he was the second oldest player in the 56-strong field here – but this year he has won more matches (61) and reached more finals (nine) than any other player on the men’s tour.

“I’m just extremely happy right now,” Federer said after winning his eighth different Masters Series title and the 23rd of his career. “I feel unbelievable prestige to win this event. Putting my hands on the trophy for the first time is a good feeling. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing.”

Federer’s victory extended the remarkable grip that the game’s “Fab Four” have held on the Masters Series, which brings together the nine biggest tournaments after the Grand Slam events and the World Tour Finals. Between them Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray have won 38 of the last 42 Masters Series tournaments. Stan Wawrinka, Robin Soderling, David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the only players to have gatecrashed their parties.

Simon, who has rediscovered some of his best form over the last fortnight, would have joined that group if he had converted the set points he had in the final. However, when it came to the big moments, Federer had a definite edge.

Simon, who was suffering from a hamstring injury which affected his serve, went 2-0 up but was broken when he served for the first set at 5-4. The Frenchman had a set point when he led the tie-break 6-5, but Federer promptly hit two service winners in succession and on the next point took the set with a superb backhand winner down the line.

Simon then left the court to take a medical time-out . There were no breaks of serve in the second set, but Federer saved two set points when he served at 5-6 and 15-40. The Swiss never trailed in the second tie-break, which he won 7-2.

When Simon netted a forehand on the first match point Federer bellowed out a roar and pumped his arms like a youngster claiming the first win of his career. On this showing there will be many more to follow.