Federer beats Nadal for Madrid title

Roger Federer has beaten top-ranked Rafael Nadal in a final for the first time in two years to claim the Madrid Open title 6-4, 6-4.

updated: May 17, 2009 15:37 IST
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Roger Federer beat top-ranked Rafael Nadal in a final for the first time in two years on Sunday to claim the Madrid Open title 6-4, 6-4.

Second-ranked Federer broke a sluggish Nadal once in both sets before firing his sixth ace of the match to claim his 15th Masters Series title on the second match point. Federer also won here in 2006 when the event was played on indoor hard court.

It was only Federer's second victory over his top rival on clay with the other coming at the Hamburg final two years ago. The victory also ended Federer's five-match losing run to Nadal, a streak in which he lost at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australia.

"He was simply better than me," Nadal said.

Federer's first title of the season ended Nadal's 33-match clay winning streak going into the French Open, where the Spaniard is going for a fifth straight title.

Earlier, top-ranked Dinara Safina of Russia beat Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to win the women's title.

Federer and Nadal joked after receiving their trophies, a contrasting scene to February when Federer was in tears after his Australian Open final defeat to Nadal.

Only Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe have met in more finals _ 20 _ as the pair played for a 16th time with Nadal still holding a comfortable lead at 11-5.

Nadal leads the overall series 13-7 as the pair played in front of Nadal's biggest supporters for the first time.

Federer, who is also the only top-10 player to have ever beaten Nadal on clay, saved two Nadal break chances before converting his first try in the ninth game.

Federer slapped a forehand winner down the near line to set up the point and converted when Nadal weakly backhanded into net. Federer served out to love to take the opening set.

Nadal's grueling semifinal win against Novak Djokovic took its toll as he failed to reach a lot of the balls he normally does.

"It doesn't help to play four hours yesterday," said Nadal, who also pointed to his troubles with Madrid's faster pace brought on by higher altitude.

Federer applied a soft drop to set up a break chance in the fifth game of the second set and took a 3-2 lead after Nadal hit long.

Nadal rallied the 12,500 spectators at the "Magic Box" after setting up a break chance in the final game but the Spaniard slapped his crosscourt backhand wide.

Federer netted his first match point but replied with his 25th winner to close it out. Nadal, who has already won five titles this season, had only 12 winners.

It was Federer's first Masters title since Cincinnati in 2007.

Safina overpowered her 18-year-old opponent with 24 winners and three break points for her 11th career title.

"Since I became No. 1 I'm playing better and better," the 23-year-old Safina said.

Wozniacki, facing a top-ranked player for the first time, will become the first Dane to crack the top-10 in next week's rankings after reaching her third final of the season.

Safina will go into Roland Garros buoyed by her recent success on clay after finishing runner-up at the Australian Open and Stuttgart earlier this year.

"I was feeling very comfortable from the start of the match and I was trying to be as aggressive as I could," said Safina, who improved to 14-1 on clay this season despite being bothered by a slight knee problem. "But even in the key moments I was very strong."