Federer crushes Nadal to reach Shanghai final

SHANGHAI, Nov 17 (Reuters) World number one Roger Federer crushed Spanish rival Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-1 to reach the final of the season-ending Masters Cup today.

The Swiss will play Nadal's countryman David Ferrer in tomorrow's final at the showcase eight-man event in Shanghai after the Spaniard's 6-1 6-3 thrashing of Andy Roddick in the first semi-final.

Federer, chasing a fourth Masters Cup title in five years, took just 59 minutes to see off Nadal in his most emphatic win over the world number two to date.

''It was one of those nights,'' the 12-times grand slam champion told reporters. ''I wish I could play like that against him every time. I got in the zone and played incredibly.'' Federer, who also beat Nadal in last year's Masters Cup semi-finals, broke through at 5-4 in the first set, smashing a forehand down the line to seize the initiative.

A run of 20 out of 21 points from 4-4 in the opening set broke Nadal's spirit, Federer turning the screw by breaking for a 2-0 lead in the second.

Worse followed for Nadal, a double-fault gifting Federer a 4-0 lead and the defending champion delivered the coup de grace with a thumping crosscourt forehand.

''From 4-4 in the first set he was unbelievable,'' sighed Nadal, who had come into the match boasting an 8-5 head-to-head record against Federer.

''If he's playing well then I have to play unbelievable to beat him. It was impossible to stop him today.'' DREAM RUN Ferrer, meanwhile, has been a revelation in his Masters Cup debut. The only player undefeated in the tournament, he swept to a 3-0 round-robin record to finish top of the Gold Group.

History suggests his dream run will come to an end in the final, however, Ferrer having lost all seven of his previous meetings with Federer.

''I am not on the same level as Federer or Rafa,'' shrugged Ferrer. ''I am not the favourite for the final. I want to enjoy this moment.'' Cheered on by a raucous section of trumpet-blowing fans draped in Spanish flags, he was already leading 3-1 when Roddick appeared to jar his back stretching for a high volley.

The American, not helped by a quick turnaround following his 6-4 6-2 thrashing by Federer the previous evening, called for the trainer at the change of ends for a rubdown.

It made little difference as Ferrer continued to pile on the agony, picking Roddick off from the baseline and making him chase drop shots, putting more strain on his sore back.

The Spaniard broke for 4-2 in the second with an incredible backhand pass that whistled past a dazed Roddick, who blew three break points in the next game in his final throw of the dice.

''This week is above what I've seen from Ferrer before,'' said Roddick, who plays for the U.S. in the Davis Cup final against Russia starting later this month.

''I don't know if I've seen someone move like that.'' Reuters PDS RS2235

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Story first published: Saturday, November 17, 2007, 23:03 [IST]
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