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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 15:58 UK

Nadal fights back to beat Federer

By Russell Barder

Rafael Nadal
Nadal beat Federer for the third successive year in Monte Carlo

Rafael Nadal produced a stunning display to beat world number one Roger Federer 7-5 7-5 and claim his fourth successive Monte Carlo Masters title.

Nadal won a fiercely competitive first set, but then found himself 0-4 down in the second to an inspired Federer.

The match appeared to be heading to a final-set decider but Nadal hit back in style, winning the next five games.

The world number two eventually clinched the win, breaking Federer for the third time in the set.

Nadal's latest triumph over Federer on clay, his seventh win in eight meetings on the surface, is the first time since 1914 that a player has won four successive Monte Carlo titles.

"It's hard to imagine winning this title for four years in a row," said Nadal.

"But Roger played a great match. We always have good finals."

Federer was full of praise for his opponent and added: "I have to congratulate Rafa. It seems to be the same thing every year here.

"He's a hell of a claycourt player.

"You can't get away with just serving well because he scrambles so well and can break you at ease.

"Rafa plays compact and tough and the clay court is so natural for him.

"He's improving but so am I. It won't get any easier to beat him but I feel I'm right there."

The two top-ranked players in the world were meeting in the final of this event for the third successive year, with Nadal winning on each of the previous occasions.

A cagey opening saw the pair exchange breaks in the first two games as neither player took the initiative.

Unforced errors dominated early on, but Federer broke Nadal for a second time to go 4-3 up before the second seed struck back immediately to level the scores.

A brilliant backhand saw Nadal go 30-0 up on the Federer serve in the 12th game and that proved to be the catalyst for the Spaniard to go on and clinch the first set.

The next point went Federer's way before he went long to give Nadal two break points and another backhand winner saw him win it 7-5.

Federer hit back superbly at the start of the second set and quickly showed why he is the top-ranked player in the world.

He raced into a 4-0 lead, breaking Nadal twice, as he produced some breathtaking tennis - much to the delight of the Monte Carlo crowd.

But Nadal responded magnificently.

At 4-0 down against the world number one, many players would have thrown in the towel but not Nadal.

After holding his serve for the first time in the set, he went on to break Federer twice to pull level at 4-4.

Federer, who had looked so comfortable, suddenly had no answer to his opponent's array of shots and Nadal soon made it five games in a row to complete a remarkable turnaround.

The top-seeded Swiss had to dig deep to stop the rot, but he won the 10th to draw level at 5-5 and restore some pride.

But Nadal held to love to move within one game of victory and was handed the win by his Swiss opponent who went long with a loose backhand.

see also
Federer v Nadal as it happened
27 Apr 08 |  Tennis
Murray 'can be clay-court star'
21 Apr 08 |  Tennis
Murray up one place in rankings
14 Apr 08 |  Tennis

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