- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009

MADRID — Roger Federer got a badly needed confidence boost ahead of the French Open, beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday to win his first title of the season at the Madrid Open.

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

“There are no positives. There is little to analyze,” said Nadal, the 2005 champion. “He broke and broke, and I went home.”

It was only the second victory Federer has on clay against his top rival, with the other coming at the Hamburg final two years ago. The win also ended Federer’s five-match losing streak to Nadal, a stretch that included losses in the finals at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Australia.

Federer called his first win over Nadal since the 2007 Masters Cup “very satisfying.” Especially after being left in tears in February following his defeat to Nadal at Melbourne.

“I thought I took all the right decisions today. In the end it was a perfect game for me,” the Swiss player said after drawing even with Nadal in Masters titles. “[You] stay positive and I did. I got the win I needed badly.”

Earlier, top-ranked Dinara Safina of Russia won her second straight title on clay by beating Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the women’s final.

Federer also ended Nadal’s 33-match clay winning streak. The Spaniard will be going for a fifth straight title at the French Open beginning May 25.

“I don’t think he’s going to take any damage away from this,” Federer said. “I’m sure he’s going to be rock solid in Paris again.”

Nadal sounded so after only a fifth loss in his last 155 matches on clay.

“To me, this tournament has nothing to do with Paris. This tournament is practically another surface compared to Paris,” said Nadal, who was troubled with the odd bounces and faster pace brought on by higher altitude. “The conditions favored him more than me.”

Only Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe have met in more finals - 20 - as the pair played for a 16th time with Nadal having earned 11 titles. He leads the overall series 13-7.

Federer and Nadal joked after receiving their trophies in a scene that contrasted with the one in February when Federer was in tears after losing to Nadal in the Australian Open final.

“Sorry to spoil the party,” Federer told the crowd from the Manolo Santana center court, where the rivals played in front of Nadal’s biggest supporters for the first time.

Federer, who is also the only top-10 player to have 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.

“He was simply better than me,” Nadal said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide