Sunday 17 May 2009 8:00 pm

Nadal’s clay dominance is ended by clinical Federer

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WORLD No2 Roger Federer finally ended Rafael Nadal’s clay court dominance to win the Madrid Open yesterday – his first title since last October.

The Swiss ace claimed a rare 6-4, 6-4 success over his biggest rival to subject Nadal to a first defeat on the surface in 33 matches.

Indeed, Nadal has only lost five times on clay in 155 games since 2005 in which time he has won four straight French Open titles.

But victory here will give Federer a boost in the hope of winning a first title at Roland Garros when the Grand Slam event starts on Sunday.

World No1 Nadal was clearly feeling the affects of his epic four-hour semi-final victory over Novak Djokovic on Saturday, and Federer took full advantage, putting in a clinical display to record only his second clay-court victory over Nadal in 11 attempts and a first on any surface for two years.

In an uncharacteristic display, leg-weary Nadal came to the net only twice and fired only 12 winners as Federer clinched the crucial break in the ninth game of the first set.

Federer then rocked Nadal to break again in the fifth game of the second set before serving out for the match, following a nervy final game in which he survived two break points. It was Federer’s first tournament victory since taking the Swiss Indoor Open in Basel seven months ago.

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