Spain's Rafael Nadal has beaten world number one Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5 to win the Monte Carlo Masters for a fourth consecutive year.This content was published on April 27, 2008 - 18:53
The Spaniard did not drop a set all week on his way to defeating the Swiss star on Sunday for the third straight time in the final, improving his clay-court record over Federer to 7-1 and 9-6 overall.
The world number one came into the Monte-Carlo final on a nine-match clay-court winning streak, having claimed last week's title in Estoril, Portugal - his seventh career title on clay.
Federer blew commanding positions in each set, breaking the second-ranked Nadal to lead 4-3 in the first and then racing to a 4-0 lead in the second. But he committed too many unforced errors, surprisingly on his forehand, to let Nadal back into the match.
"Disappointing second set," Federer said. "After playing the right way against him and then letting him back into the match, it was disappointing. Maybe I didn't play my best.
"He deserves to win. I'm pushing Rafa today, having the feeling I can beat him if I play the right way. And I think that's the feeling I didn't have after (Monte Carlo) last year."
Federer leaves the tournament with some other positive thoughts, after arriving with no clear idea about just how well he was playing.
"Two weeks ago, I was still doubting," he admitted, adding that he was looking forward to future clay tournaments.
"This sport gives new opportunities," he said. "I hope to make the most of them in Rome, Hamburg and Paris."
The Spaniard has now won 22 consecutive matches at Monte Carlo since losing to Guillermo Coria in the third round five years ago. Federer was the last person to take a set from him in the 2006 final.
"Winning four times here is unimaginable," Nadal said. It was also his first tournament victory this year.
Relying too much on his forehand, Federer missed routine volleys at the net, and made 44 unforced errors.
But the Swiss seemed poised to level the match after hitting some near-perfect winners down the line and taking a 4-0 lead in the second set. Nadal even struggled to hold his serve in the fifth game, but then turned the match around.
Having seen the Spaniard rally back to 4-3, the world number one's game fell apart in the eighth game when he hit four consecutive unforced errors to lose his serve to love.
A weak backhand gave Nadal match point and he took it at the first opportunity, before sliding on his back and raising both fists in the air.
"It is important to win the first big clay court tournament of the year," said Nadal. "A win here is superb preparation for the French Open."
swissinfo with agencies
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