Roger Federer continued his domination of Andy Roddick with another crushing win over the American at the Masters Cup in Shanghai yesterday. The world No 1 has responded well to his defeat to Fernando Gonzalez on Monday in his Red Group opener.
A convincing win over Nikolay Davydenko put him firmly back in contention and the Russian's victory over Gonzalez earlier in the day assured Federer of a place in the semi-finals.
Despite this there was no let-up from the Swiss against Roddick. Federer was dominant throughout, winning 6-4, 6-2 in just 61 minutes to register his 11th successive win against the big-serving 25-year-old and 5th in 16 career meetings. The delighted defending champion said: "Let's not over-rate today's match, because we both qualified, both could play freely.
"I know that my game matches up well with his, but that doesn't mean I'm going to beat him all the time. Look what happened with Gonzalez. You think you have a guy under control. It turns around."
Next up for Federer is a last-four clash with the world No 2 Rafael Nadal. "I'm very excited to play against him. It's always nice for the best two to be playing against each other in the last tournament of the season," Federer added.
"It's a nice thing for everybody here. Of course, there's the final after, so you definitely have me or Rafa in the finals, which I think is a good thing, too."
Roddick's semi-final opponent is the Spaniard, David Ferrer, the only man to emerge from the group phase with an unblemished record. It promises to be another tough encounter for Roddick.
"It seems like most times we play he [Federer] is on top of his game, which is a little annoying," he said. "I guess I just have to figure out what about my game brings out the best in him and try to adjust. Some of the guys who beat him are quick, [David] Nalbandian types who can run a little bit more. Unfortunately, that's not my strength. You have to go with what you're good at to try to make adjustments."
As for the clash with Ferrer, he added: "I'll have my hands full. I still feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I just can't let my disappointment spill over into tomorrow."
Davydenko was at least able to end a difficult season on a high with his 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Gonzalez.
The Russian, who was this week cleared of an ATP charge of not trying in a defeat to Marin Cilic last month in St Petersburg, converted four of 15 break points during the match.
Elsewhere, home advantage will give the US a boost when they host 2006 champions Russia in this month's Davis Cup final, says singles mainstay James Blake.
The Americans, bidding for their first Davis Cup title in 12 years, will face the Russians on the indoor surface at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon , from 30 November to 2 December.
"I think for Andy [Roddick] and myself it's a great situation," Blake said. "We love playing on indoor hard [courts]. We've had some of our best results there.
"We know we're going to have a raucous crowd on our side and this is the perfect situation for me to play some of my best tennis."
The Russia captain, Shamil Tarpishchev, suggested the Americans could be vulnerable in the singles but Blake begs to differ. "He's got to get them fired up some way," he said. "We have a different opinion. We think our singles players are pretty impressive."