Nadal Tops Federer in Hamburg Masters

by John on May 19, 2008

Rafael Nadal won the only major clay-court title misssing from his resume yesterday, defeating world No. 1 and defending champion Roger Federer 7-5, 6-7, 6-3 in the Hamburg Masters final. The result was the reverse of last year’s final, when Federer won his fourth Hamburg title and snapped Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay. Nadal rallied from 5-1 and 5-2 deficits in the first two sets, though he did lose the second in a tiebreaker. The second-ranked Spaniard charged out to a 4-1 in the third set and held on to improve to 8-1 on clay against Federer and 10-6 in all matches. “It was an important win for me,” said Nadal. “I was focused all the time. Roger had some important mistakes in the first set that helped me a lot. I started the match playing bad. It was tough for me, after yesterday it was tough in the beginning. I felt something in the leg, a little bit pain. It was difficult for me to concentrate. But later I felt a little bit better.” Nadal won a three-set semifinal battle with No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic on Saturday, a struggle lasting 3 hours and 3 minutes. Djokovic, the season’s points race leader, was going for back-to-back titles after winning last week’s Rome Masters, where Nadal lost his opening round match to Juan Carlos Ferrero while hindered by a painful foot blister. That defeat was only the second in the Spaniard’s last 110 matches on clay. “I could have maybe served a little bit better,” said Federer. “When I served for the set, the second time where he broke me at 5-1, but I thought all in all it was all right. It wasn’t my best performance, if you get broken so many times there is always something you are a little bit unhappy about. But I think I am finding the right type of play from the baseline.” Nadal broke Federer six times, while the Swiss Maestro recorded four breaks. The Hamburg title, the Spaniard’s third of the year and 26th overall, should give the Clay Master a ton of confidence heading into the French Open next week. Nadal, the three-time defending champion at Roland Garros, won at Monte Carlo and Barcelona in his other two clay-court tournaments earlier this spring. Three out of four on the European swing certainly ain’t bad. “He had a great week and a great clay-court season,” said Federer, still in search of his first French title.

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