Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer has beaten arch rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to win the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
The eagerly awaited game on Sunday evening was the 22nd meeting between two players and their first in London since Nadal’s epic Wimbledon victory in 2008.
Federer, the world number two, has now notched up his fifth World Tour Finals title.
The Swiss controlled the first set with an attacking game, losing only three points on his serve and breaking Nadal, the world number one, to take a 5-3 lead.
He served almost as well in the second set, losing just five points, but four came in the fourth game which Nadal won to take a 3-1 lead. The 24-year-old Spaniard held serve the rest of the way to even the score at one set apiece.
With Nadal tired after a tough three-set win on Saturday, Federer, 29, easily won the deciding third set.
On match point, Federer hit a forehand winner on the line, but the crowd apparently thought the ball was out and remained quiet. Then Nadal started coming to the net to shake hands with Federer and the Swiss raised his arms in victory, receiving a standing ovation.
The Swiss looked emotional as he received the trophy in front of 17,500 spectators at the O2 Arena. "I know I didn't spoil his vacation after this because he's had an amazing year," Federer said of Nadal. "A year that any player dreams of."
Nadal won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open this year. He paid tribute to his rival.
"You played unbelievable all during the week," said Nadal, who was attempting to win the year-end crown – the only significant title missing on his CV - for the first time. "So well done for everything."
The last time the top two players contested the year-end final was 24 years ago, when Ivan Lendl beat Boris Becker in New York.
Set the stage
Federer and Nadal set the stage for a grand finale to the men's season when they both demonstrated on Saturday just what separates them from the rest to seal a dream final at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The season-ending tournament sets the top eight players in the world against each other.
Nadal delved deep into his reserves of willpower to fight off an inspired Andy Murray of Britain in a three-hour duel before Federer obliterated Novak Djokovic 6-1 6-4.
Sunday’s win has cut Nadal's career record to 14-8 against the Swiss. In Grand Slam finals, Nadal is still 5-2 against Federer, but Federer has now beaten Nadal all three times they have faced each other in the final tournament of the season.
Together the two players have won 21 of the past 23 majors.
This year has been one of ups and downs by Federer’s high standards. At the Australian Open at the beginning of the year he earned his 16th major title - the most by any player in the open era - yet he failed to reach the finals in the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
However, earlier in November he was able to reclaim the Swiss Indoors in Basel, his hometown, which brought him ahead of Pete Sampras in terms of career singles titles. The latest win now makes it 66. Ahead of him are John McEnroe (77), Ivan Lendl (94) and Jimmy Connors (109).
Experts said that Federer had played some of his best tennis of the year this past week in London.
World Tour Finals
The qualification for the ATP World Tour Finals is limited to the season’s top 8. The rewards are high: around $1.6 million (SFr1.6 million) and 1,500 ranking points for the winner and $860,000 and 1,000 points for the runner-up.
Players have to survive the round-robin phase to progress to the knock-out semifinals and final. All players play a minimum of three matches in the round-robin phase.
The venue is the O2 Arena in London.
The last ten winners
2010: Roger Federer
2009: Nikolay Davydenko
2008: Novak Djokovic
2007: Roger Federer
2006: Roger Federer
2005: David Nalbandian
2004: Roger Federer
2003: Roger Federer
2002: Lleyton Hewitt
2001: Lleyton Hewitt
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