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Supreme Nadal stops Federer in Madrid

sports Updated: May 17, 2010 08:53 IST
IANS
Supreme Nadal

Rafael Nadal claimed a record 18th Masters 1000 title as he defeated rival Roger Federer 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) in the pair's first meeting in a year to win the Madrid title on Sunday.

Nadal trailed 4-2 in the second set tiebreaker, but four unforced errors in a row from Federer left the Swiss hanging.

Nadal converted on the second of three match points - a Federer forehand mis-hit - to also become the first to sweep the Masters 1000 spring clay events.

Federer had rallied twice in the second set from a break down, only to give it away in the breaker.

"It's been a wonderful event for me," said Federer. "I'm sorry I couldn't defend the title. Rafa's had an incredible clay season, he was supreme today."

The Swiss said that despite losing in two hours ten minutes, with 34 winners and 33 unforced errors, "I'm looking forward to Paris, I'm happy with my clay game."

"I know I'm not Spanish but I tried to play some clay court tennis here."

Nadal will rise back to second in the world in Monday's rankings as he heads to next Sunday's start of the French Open in rude good form.

"Winning here at home is a dream," said the first man to sweep all three spring Masters 1000 titles: Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid. He also broke through to set a new record of 18 titles at the Masters 1000 level, one more than Andre Agassi and two ahead of Federer.

"Never in my wildest dreams (did I imagine) I would win all three of these big events," said Nadal, unbeaten this clay season with 15 consecutive victories.

Nadal leads the Federer rivalry 14-7 with 10 victories from a dozen meetings on clay. Nadal has now won six of their past seven meetings.

The Spanish champion now stands 28-2 in clay finals, his only pair of losses coming against Federer.

Nadal's title victory was his 39th on all surfaces. He lost to Federer a year ago in the Madrid final, with the Swiss taking that momentum into the French Open, where he won his first title at the clay Grand Slam.