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Federer loses first top duel against Nadal

Federer bowed out on Nadal's third match point Keystone

Switzerland's Roger Federer has failed to break Rafael Nadal's winning streak on clay and lost the final of the Monte Carlo tournament on Sunday 6-4, 6-4.

This content was published on April 23, 2007 - 08:36

It was the third consecutive triumph for the Spaniard in the principality and the fifth victory in a row against top-ranked Federer.

Nadal, the world number two, has already emerged as a hot favourite to retain his French Open crown.

"Congratulations to Rafa. What he has achieved is fantastic," said Federer.

Nadal beat Federer last year in the Monte Carlo Masters, the Rome Masters and the French Open finals.

Federer had won the previous two meetings on other surfaces, but missed chances to break Nadal on Sunday.

The Swiss, who was in a class of his own against clay court specialists David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferraro in the previous rounds, never seemed in a position to bother Nadal.

"I will try again to beat him in Rome, Hamburg and here in Monte Carlo next year," said Federer.

Nadal extended his record winning streak on clay to 67 matches on Sunday.

Opportunities

In the eighth game of the first set, the ten-time Grand Slam title winner had two breakpoint opportunities but the Spaniard saved the first after a strong serve and the second after Federer's forehand went wide.

Federer made 38 unforced errors - half on his forehand - and Nadal won on his second matchpoint when Federer sent a backhand long.

Nadal overcame an awkward start to break Federer in the ninth game of the first set to win his 19th career title.

After missing two breakpoints against Nadal, Federer quickly trailed 40-0 in the ninth game. He saved one breakpoint but then a long forehand gave Nadal a 5-4 lead, and he served out the set.

Nadal broke Federer again in the third game of the second set, when Federer's defensive volley was too short and the Spaniard sprinted forward to pass him down the line.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Federer has yet to equal Pete Sampras's record of 14 grand slam titles - he has ten - the Swiss has many other records under his belt.

This includes the highest number of ranking points at the end of the year – 8,370 in 2006 – and the most prize money in one season $8,343,885 (SFr10,135,000), also in 2006.

Earlier this year Federer beat the record for the longest unbroken reign as world number one, overtaking Jimmy Connors' 30-year-old milestone of 160 weeks. Federer has been in pole position since February 2, 2004.

In April Federer became the first living person to be honoured with a special stamp by the Swiss Post.

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