WRAPUP 1-Tennis-Impressive Federer sends Nadal timely reminder

Reuters

Sun, 28 Nov 21:54:00 2010

* Federer ends year on a high

Roger Federer sent a timely reminder to Rafael Nadal on Sunday, out-gunning the year's dominant player to win the ATP World Tour Finals with an irresistible barrage of attacking tennis.

Federer, overshadowed this season by the phenomenal Nadal, won 6-3 3-6 6-1 in front of 17,500 fans at London's O2 Arena for a record-equalling fifth title at the year-ending finale to match the feat of Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.

Nadal, who won this year's French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles to knock Federer off the top of the rankings, lacked his usual intensity after an epic semi-final against Andy Murray and the Swiss seized his chance to lay down a marker for next year.

Thirty-two winners flew from Federer's racket in the one hour 37 minute contest as he got the better of the Spaniard for only the second time in two and half years.

Nadal now leads 14-8 in their series dating back to 2004 but Federer's form since his shock defeat by Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon suggests the 24-year-old will find the Swiss blocking his path to more grand slam glory in 2011.

In completing the round-robin tournament undefeated Federer also added $1.6 million to his bank balance, although notching another win over a player who is threatening his "greatest of all time" tag, was reward enough.

"I'm just really happy the way I was able to finish the season in style, playing some of my best tennis," Federer, who won his 16th grand slam title at this year's Australian Open, told reporters.

"Then obviously beating Rafa in the final makes it extra special because of the year he's had."

Federer roared with delight as he looped a forehand flush on to the baseline before a resigned Nadal, who declined to challenge the call, walked to the net to congratulate him.

The Spaniard never takes losing lightly but considering how far he has come since leaving London 12 months ago with three defeats and serious questions about his form and fitness, he was clearly not too despondent at playing second fiddle.

"This has been a fantastic year and probably my most emotional," Nadal, who ended an 11-month title drought in Monte Carlo in April and from then was almost unstoppable, said on court.

"But when's Roger's playing like this it's very difficult to stop him."

TOP TWO

For the time since 1986 the world's top two players in the ATP rankings contested the final match of the season -- a fitting end to a tournament that attracted 250,000 fans over eight days in London's Docklands.

Though the match lacked the drama of their most recent one in London -- Nadal's unforgettable 2008 Wimbledon final defeat of Federer -- it still provided riveting entertainment for a sell-out crowd as both players tried to wrestle the initiative.

Nadal had the first sniff of a chance at 3-3 when he had Federer down 0-30 on serve but he was helpless as the Swiss nonchalantly reeled off four perfect points.

In the next game, Federer earned a break point with a forehand winner and converted it when he rolled a backhand beyond the reach of Nadal.

In the blink of an eye, the Federer had moved a set ahead but Nadal, playing in the final of the season-ender for the first time, levelled the match after breaking Federer's serve for the first time in the fourth game of the second set.

That was some feat as Federer lost just 13 points on his delivery throughout the match.

Federer struck the decisive blow to move 3-1 ahead in the decider when Nadal hit a tired-looking backhand wide.

Dredging up his remaining reserves of energy, Nadal got to deuce on the next game but Federer slammed the door shut with an ace to move 4-1 ahead and there was no way back for the Mallorcan after that.

 

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