Nadal: ‘I played a perfect match’

Rafael Nadal produced a flawless exhibition of claycourt tennis to demolish world number one Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0 on Sunday and win his fourth straight French Open title.

The Spaniard was at his relentless best as he tore Federer apart in one hour 48 minutes to deny the Swiss a career grand slam and equal Bjorn Borg’s feat of four consecutive titles at Roland Garros.

”I played a perfect match,” said Nadal, who was presented with the trophy by Borg.

”I’m sorry for that final but you played well,” he told Federer. ”I want to thank Roger for his attitude on the court.”

Federer, beaten in the final by Nadal in the two previous years, had promised to attack but made too many errors early on as Nadal ripped through the first set.

The Swiss raised himself in the second set and had a break point at 3-3 but Nadal slammed the door shut and crushed a hapless Federer in the third to clinch the title without losing a set, leaving Federer stuck on 12 grand-slam titles.

”I would have hoped to do better than four games but Rafael is very, very strong,” Federer told the crowd.

”He dominated this tournament like maybe no one before except Borg, so congratulations Rafa.

”It was still a good week. Losing in a final is never easy but I will try again next year.”

Nadal broke the world number one three times as he raced through the first set in 32 minutes.

Federer, chasing the only grand-slam title to elude him, began shakily and three forehand errors gave second seed Nadal the break in the first game.

Immediate response
The Spaniard saved two break points in the next game and though Federer saved two more break points in his next service game, he was broken to love two games later as Nadal surged ahead 4-1.

Top seed Federer tried to get to the net whenever he could but Nadal passed him at will and broke for a third time to take the set as Federer put a forehand volley long.

The Swiss looked shell-shocked and when he dropped his serve to trail 2-0 in the second set, he had won just 16 points in the entire match.

His response, though, was immediate and he broke back in the next game with his best all-round tennis of the match.

Becoming more aggressive and serving-and-volleying at times, Federer saved a break point to level at 2-2, then forced a break point at 3-3, only to net a backhand as Nadal held on.

That proved to be the turning point of the set and Nadal rifled a backhand down the line to break in the next game and served out for a two-set lead.

Though Federer saved two break points in the opening game of the third set, Nadal snatched the break on his third chance when Federer netted a forehand.

Nadal repeated the feat twice and served out to take the title when Federer’s forehand went long.

It was the first time that Federer had lost a set to love since the first round of the Queen’s Club tournament in London in 1999, against Zimbabwean Byron Black.

It was the shortest French Open men’s final in terms of games played since 1977 and the quickest final, at 108 minutes, since 1980. – Reuters 2008.

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