Nadal again beats Federer on clay in Monte Carlo final

Apr 22, 2007 - 3:39 PM MONACO (Ticker) - The rivalry is alive again, because Rafael Nadal still has Roger Federer's number on clay.

The red-hot Nadal dispatched the world's top-ranked player, 6-4, 6-4, in Sunday's final of the ATP Masters Series Monte Carlo, setting up another intriguing claycourt season en route to the French Open.

It was the third straight title in this $2.2 million tournament for Nadal, who did not lose a set this week. The second-seeded Spaniard extended his winning streak on clay to a staggering 67 matches and improved to a spotless 14-0 mark in claycourt finals.

Federer is a 10-time Grand Slam champion who has dominated the ATP Tour for the last two-plus years, looking virtually unbeatable at times. But not against Nadal, and not on clay, the surface where the Swiss superstar is most vulnerable.

Sunday's loss dropped Federer to 3-7 all-time vs. Nadal and 0-5 on clay. He has lost to the sweet-swinging lefthander in each of the last two finals here and also has been beaten by Nadal in the 2005 French Open semifinals and the 2006 French Open final.

Known as "The King of Clay," Nadal saved all three break points he faced and scored the only two service breaks of the match - one in each set - to continue his mastery of the world's most masterful player.

The rivals are headed down a similar path to last year, when Nadal appeared to be a legitimate challenger to Federer's dominance. He beat Federer in finals in Dubai, Monte Carlo, Rome and Paris.

However, Nadal did not win again in 2006, while Federer went on to claim Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open, putting together a 41-match winning streak along the way.

Now the gap between the players appears to have narrowed again. Nadal has won two of his last three tournaments while Federer has lost three times in his last nine matches.

Before Sunday, Federer also had not dropped a set in this event. He seemed to have regained the form that deserted him in a pair of losses to Guillermo Canas but could not solve Nadal.

Nadal won his eighth career Masters Series title. He has not lost on clay since falling to Russia's Igor Andreev in the quarterfinals of the 2005 Valencia Open.






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