Federer claims first victory of year

It was not a pretty victory, but Federer is taking everything he can get Keystone

Roger Federer has won his first title of the year, defeating the number two seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in the Estoril Open in Portugal.

This content was published on April 20, 2008 - 19:01

However, victory in the final was handed to the world number one early in the second set when Davydenko was forced to retire due to a leg injury.

Federer won the first set 7-6 on the clay court in a tiebreak but was down 2-1 in the second, when the Russian decided not to continue.

"This is not the way you want to win a tournament but that's the way it goes sometimes," said Federer.

"It's great to win a title again in my first clay court tournament this season and it gives me great confidence for the [forthcoming] Monte Carlo Open."

It was the Swiss star's 54th title and the first tournament played under his new coach Jose Higueras, and 12th victory against no defeats in his head-to-head play with Davydenko.

Davydenko, the world number four, was red-hot going into the final, having won his last 11 matches. He claimed the Estoril title in 2003.

"I'm sorry about what happened today," Davydenko told a packed stadium in centre court. He later said he hoped to recover quickly so he could play in the prestigious Monte Carlo Masters Series next week.

Slow start

Federer has been going through a rough stretch by his standards, off to his worst start since 2000.

The 12 times grand slam winner last won a tournament in November. He split with coach Tony Roche a year ago and remained without a trainer until hiring Higueras just before Estoril.

And his route to the Estoril final was anything but easy. He was down a set to unseeded Denis Gremelmayr in the semi-finals before turning the tide late in the second, eventually winning the match 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Federer's goal is to win the French Open – the only Grand Slam tournament missing from his trophy room, and ultimately to beat Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slams.

In the women's final in Portugal, second-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko won her third career title, beating 2004 Estoril Open finalist Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-4 6-2 in a rain-interrupted match.

swissinfo with agencies

Federer statistics

Date of birth: August 8, 1981
Height: 185cm
Weight: 80kg
Plays: Right-handed, single-handed backhand
Turned professional: 1998
Titles: 54 (Grand Slams: 12)

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