SHANGHAI: Roger Federer overpowered No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal on Saturday and advanced to the final of the season-ending Masters Cup for a fourth consecutive year.
Top-ranked Federer fired three aces in the first game, setting the tone of a 6-4, 7-5 win over Nadal his nearest rival in the rankings.
In the second semifinals, Blake, the eighth-ranked and last player to qualify for the season-ending tournament, beat defending champion David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-1.
Federer and Blake have not met in this tournament, although the Swiss star has won all five of their previous matches. Blake is at the Masters Cup for the first time. Federer is into the final for the fourth consecutive year and is bidding for his third season-ending title.
The top-ranked Federer had the benefit of a day off on Friday and reeled off three aces in the first game to set the tone. Nadal had only 24 hours between his last round-robin match and the semifinal, having secured his place against Federer with a victory on Friday night against Nikolay Davydenko.
After losing five consecutive matches to Nadal, Federer has now won their past two meetings, including the Wimbledon final.
Blake beat No. 2 Nadal and No. 3 Davydenko in his opening matches here and then lost an inconsequential match to No. 6 Tommy Robredo on Friday night.
In doubles, Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor reached their first final in eight years at the Masters Cup and will face Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi for the championship.
Knowles and Nestor scored a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 semifinal victory Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett. Bjorkman and Mirnyi defeated Leander Paes and Martin Damm 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). The results (semifinals):
Singles: Roger Federer bt Rafael Nadal 6-4, 7-5; James Blake bt David Nalbandian 6-4, 6-1.
Doubles: 3-Mark Knowles (Bah) & Daniel Nestor (Can) bt 4-Paul Hanely (Aus) & Kevin Ullyett (Zim) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; 2-Jonas Bjorkman (Swe) & Max Mirnyi (Bel) bt 6-Martin Damm (Czech) & Leander Paes (Ind) 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Agencies