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Wimbledon | It's Federer vs Nadal final

india Updated: Jul 08, 2006 03:56 IST
Highlight Story

It's Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal in another Grand Slam final.

Federer, hitting breathtaking winners from all parts of the court, overwhelmed Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 in 77 minutes on Friday to close in on his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.

With the loss of only four games by Federer, it was the most one-sided men's semifinal at Wimbledon since the tournament adopted its current format in 1922.

Nadal, the two-time French Open champion, continued his stunning run on grass by beating Marcos Baghdatis, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 to reach his first Wimbledon championship.

Nadal has beaten Federer in four finals this year, including at the French Open last month, and has a 6-1 career edge. Federer is 55-0 against all other players this year.

"I know I can beat him," Federer said. "I don't need to think of playing against him. I need to focus on me playing on grass, my style, playing aggressive. It's going to be easier on grass to do that than on clay."

The 20-year-old Nadal is bidding to become the first Spaniard to win the title here since Manolo Santana in 1966, and the first player to win the French and Wimbledon in the same year since Bjorn Borg in 1980.

It's the first time since 1952 that the same players have reached back-to-back finals at the French Open and Wimbledon. "I am going to play one of the best in history, especially on this surface," Nadal said. "So I need to play the best match of my life to win."

While the top-seeded Federer came into the tournament as the overwhelming favorite, few expected No. 2 Nadal to get very far. He's won a record 60 straight clay-court matches but had little expectations in only his fifth grass-court event. Nadal was close to tears after the match.

"I'm very emotional," he said. "It's amazing to be in the finals."

While Federer's victory was lopsided, Nadal had to work extremely hard to hold off a spirited challenge from Baghdatis, the 21-year-old Australian Open runner-up from Cyprus. The match lasted just under 2 1/2 hours, and the second set produced some of the best tennis and drama of the tournament. Nadal saved all nine break points against him and broke five times. He hasn't dropped serve since the second round and has won 15 sets in a row.

After putting away an overhead on match point, Nadal dropped to his knees, leaned back and pumped both arms three times. After the handshake, he went back to the center of the court, fell to his knees again and raised his arms as the crowd gave him a rousing ovation.

Nadal lost just one game to take the first set in 30 minutes. But the second set was as tight as it gets, with both players hitting soft drop shots, making great gets and going for winners. The set was decided on one service break, and it came in the 12th game when Nadal ended a long rally by ripping an inside-outside forehand which hit the sideline.

Nadal went up a break in the third at 3-1 on a thrilling point. After luring Nadal to net with a drop shot, Baghdatis had the open court, but his shot hit the top of the net and popped in the air. Nadal, who had slipped and fallen, sprang to his feet and hit a reflex volley to win the point.

In the seventh game, Nadal fell behind 0-40 but managed to save four break points. Baghdatis felt aggrieved when the linesman called his shot long at 30-40. Replays showed the ball hit the line. "No way, no way, no way," Baghdatis said to chair umpire Andreas Egli. The call stood, and Nadal went on to hold.

"I didn't take my chances," Baghdatis said. As for the disputed call, he said, "It happens to everybody. I cannot say it turned the match."

Federer won 11 consecutive games at one stretch against the 59th-ranked Bjorkman to extend his Open era record grass-court winning streak to 47. He hasn't dropped a set all tournament, and could become the first player to win the title without losing a set since Borg in 1976.

"I was flawless," Federer said. "I had high expectations to win this match today. And then to come through and play at the level I did today, that's great."

He was in that rarefied zone where it seemed as if he could do no wrong.

"It's just a beautiful feeling," he said. "You don't get it very often. When you can dominate an opponent, it's always sort of nice. But then especially in a semifinals of a Grand Slam, it's even better."

Federer is the first player since Fred Stolle in 1965 to get to the final of five straight majors. He's reached 16 straight consecutive tournament finals in all.

The 24-year-old Swiss is on course to become the third man in the Open era to win four straight Wimbledons, joining Bjorn Borg (five straight from 1976-80) and Pete Sampras (1997-00). The 34-year-old Bjorkman, the oldest Wimbledon men's semifinalist since Jimmy Connors in 1987, is one of the world's top doubles players but was no match for Federer.

"I felt like I played a guy who was as near perfection as you can play the game," Bjorkman said. "I had the best seat in the house in a way. He just makes it look very simple." In Saturday's women's final, top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo plays No. 3 Henin-Hardenne in their second Grand Slam championship matchup this year. Henin-Hardenne retired because of stomach pain trailing 6-1, 2-0 at the Australian Open in January, handing the Frenchwoman her first major title.

Henin-Hardenne is bidding to complete a career Grand Slam by securing the only major championship missing from her collection.

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