Federer defeats Nadal at Madrid Open

Roger Federer returns a shot during the final match against Rafael Nadal in Madrid Keystone

Switzerland's Roger Federer claimed his 15th masters title on Sunday at the Madrid Open with a 6-4, 6-4 win over long-time tennis rival Rafael Nadal.

This content was published on May 17, 2009 minutes

The win for the Swiss in one hour, 26 minutes over the world's best tennis player ends Federer's five-time losing streak in championship play against the Spaniard. The victory is his first title of the year.

Federer's win in Madrid is something of a miracle, as Nadal, at least statistically, had most of the advantages coming into the match.

The Madrid Open is a clay-court tournament, Nadal's preferred surface. Before Sunday's match, Nadal had beaten number-two Federer nine times out of ten on clay. The Spaniard has only lost five times out of more than 150 matches on the surface.

But Nadal had endured a gruelling four-hour semifinal match on Saturday against Novak Djokovic, who had beaten Federer earlier in Rome. The marathon effort had clearly drained him as Nadal often seemed flat against Federer.

Nadal also enjoyed a fan-base fired up in his native Spain, but Federer remained tenacious and aggressive, finishing the match with an ace.

"I'm very happy to have won, but I'd like to congratulate Rafa as he's had such a great run on clay," Federer said. "I'm sorry to have spoilt the party here."

Winner for now

The win in Madrid marks the first time Federer has won against Nadal at a masters tournament since 2007 in Shanghai. It was also the first time he'd won a masters title since Cincinnati in 2007.

Sunday's match was only the seventh time Federer has won against Nadal in 20 duels.

The last match-up between the two top players came in February at the Australian Open. Nadal won that title in five spectacular sets that lasted four hours and 23 minutes.

This time Federer dispatched his opponent in two decisive sets. He worked Nadal hard in the first set, when the Spaniard failed to capitalise on two break points early in the game. The Swiss got his own break at 4-4 before winning the set.

Nadal began to falter as the game progressed. He often sent balls wide or into the net on routine volleys.

Federer, 27, played methodically throughout the second set, though he lost points on shots that Nadal deftly worked past him after he tried charging the net.

Despite the win for the Basel star, Nadal remains the favourite to win the French Open, which starts May 24. That tournament is the only grand-slam event that Federer has been unable to win. with agencies

Key facts

Roger Federer
Height: 185cm (6'1")
Weight: 85kg (187 lbs)
Pro since 1998
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Rank: 2
Record: 638-155
Singles titles: 58
Earnings: more than $45 million (SFr50.45 million)

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