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Federer clinches fifth Finals crown with Nadal victory


 

Originally published on: 28/11/10 23:42

Roger Federer lifted his fifth ATP World Tour Finals crown with a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory over world No.1 Rafael Nadal that lays down a marker for the upcoming 2011 season.

Federer, who joins Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl in winning the year-end championships five times, raced towards the title with a scintillating run of five straight games as the toils of Nadal’s incredible season finally seemed to catch up with him.

“It’s fantastic,” said Federer. “To win a fifth time is obviously amazing, for the third time in a different place. I said before it would be great to win in Houston, Shanghai and also now here in London.

“I’m just really happy the way I was able to finish the season in style, playing some of my best tennis, really saving the best for last.”

Both men made solid starts before the match sprung to life in game seven as Federer responded to going 0-30 down with a pair of sublime backhand volleys to hold serve. With that, the momentum shifted to the 16-time Grand Slam champion fired a forehand winner past Nadal to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out to love.

Nadal, who believes the World Tour Finals is his hardest assignment of the year, appeared to be suffering the after effects of his three-hour battle royale with Andy Murray in Saturday’s semi-finals, his footwork letting him down towards the business end of the first set.

But the Spaniard dug deep at the start of the second, breaking Federer for a 3-1 lead that proved decisive – and it looked like injury might be added to insult for the Swiss shortly afterwards.

Federer took a heavy tumble onto his left knee a game later as he changed direction to chase a Nadal forehand that dropped dead after catching the net cord. The Swiss at least got to take a seat shortly after as the point gave Nadal a 4-1 lead.

While the exertions of a lengthy season and testing week looked to have caught up with them at times, both men raised their game at the start of the final set, serving up some of the most spellbinding rallies of an already memorable week of tennis.

This time, however, it was Federer who landed the early break as Nadal failed to find the line with a forehand pass to concede a 3-1 lead to the Swiss.

In times of crisis, Nadal has targeted the Federer backhand with his high-bouncing topspin drives, but the Swiss simply could not miss with the one-hander, firing a barrage of cross court winners and breaking once more to leave him serving for the title – and after a moment’s hesitation when a looping forehand landed in the corner on championship point, Federer held his arms aloft.

“Obviously, beating Rafa in the final makes it extra special because of the year he had,” said Federer, who was thrilled with his front-foot display against Nadal.

“Even though I lost the second set, I’m really happy the way I stayed positive throughout the match today. I thought it was clearly a very high level. I don’t know if I could have played any better so I’m really pleased.”

Nadal refused to be disappointed after finally calling time on a spectacular season, and paid the highest tributes to the Swiss.

“He played unbelievable,” said Nadal, who also denied that fatigue had played its part. “I think in the beginning he was unplayable, the first set. I was still having chances in the second set and the beginning of the third, so-so.

“My thought is he played better than me, he beat me. I can just congratulate him for his victory and another great tournament for him,” he added. “He played unbelievable all week, without losing a set, being in the final, so his level was very high. I tried my best this afternoon but he was better than me.”

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