Nadal crushes Federer to lift fourth French Open (Lead)

June 8th, 2008 - 11:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, June 8 (DPA) Rafael Nadal joined Bjorn Borg as winner of four straight French Open titles Sunday, paying respectful tribute to opponent Roger Federer after inflicting a painful 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 defeat on the world number one. “I congratulate Roger,” said Nadal, who will remain second in the world behind the Swiss after compiling a 28-0 record at Roland Garros.

“He has a great attitude in victory and in defeat. This is such an important victory, I played nearly the perfect match today.”

Nadal was presented with the trophy by Borg himself, the six-time Paris champion who won four in succession (1978-1981) on the clay.

“It’s an honour to receive this trophy from a great champion like Bjorn,” said the Spaniard. “Winning four in a row here is just incredible for me.”

The emphatic success in one hour, 48 minutes was the most lop-sided of five-set matches between Federer and Nadal. The stunned Swiss won just five points on second serve and lost serve eight times in a high-standard but futile effort.

Nadal swept the last nine games to claim the 27th title of his career in commanding style, breaking Federer for a fourth straight time for 5-0 in the third set.

One more winning game brought the world’s most powerful clay player to victory, his arms raised in triumph.

The defeat was the first in three straight Roland Garros finals between the best pair in the world that Federer did not win at least a set.

Federer’s fabled game was unable to make an impression against the Spanish king of clay.

“Rafa is just so strong this year,” said 12-time Grand Slam winner Federer who has now gone two majors without a title. “He is dominating even more than Borg did in his time.

“He completely deserves the title, congratulations Rafa.”

Federer, who hired coach Jose Higueras in hopes of breaking the Nadal stranglehold on their clay meetings - the Spaniard stands 9-1 in clay finals between the pair - said he played well until the deciding match of the fortnight.

“It would have been a good week, but losing the final doesn’t help,” he said with a smile a day after host Switzerland went down to the Czech Republic in the opening match of Euro 2008.

“I’ll be back again next year. It was a good event for me, but Rafa is too strong on the clay.”

Nadal broke in the opening game to set the tone and never trailed in the lopsided affair. Federer made a brief comeback from 2-0 down to 2-2 in the second set but his fate was sealed when he wasted a break point for 4-3 later in the set.

Nadal held serve and also booked the next eight games to record the most lopsided French Open win in 31 years since Guillermo Vilas beat Brian Gottfried 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 in 1977.

After losing the opening set, a faint sun began to shine, with Federer’s fortunes temporarily lifting.

The top seed sent Nadal almost off the court with a hugely angled backhand winner for two break points and converted on the first to break the Spaniard for the only time in the match.

But Nadal re-established control with a break in the eighth game after Federer scrambled to salvage three break points before watching the Spaniard’s down-the-line winner earn a 5-3 lead.

After one hour, 20 minutes, Nadal was well on his way, standing a brief set from victory.

Nadal’s victory lifts him to 44-7 on the year, with clay trophies in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Paris. Federer stands 32-8, with only an Estoril clay title from 2008.

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