すごいなあ、6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) ですって。
Nadal shatters Federer to equal winning record
Mon 15 May, 10:14 AM
ROME (AFP) - Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal equalled the record of 53 straight clay-court victories as he saved two match points on his way to beating top seed Roger Federer 6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) to win the Rome Masters.
Nadal's fourth straight victory over his world number one rival equalled the clay run of match success established by Argentine Guillermo Vilas in 1977.
Nadal successfully defended his third clay title of the season after Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
"I'm very content, this was a fantastic win," said Nadal, who saved two match points in the 12th game of the final set in a match which lasted five hours, six minutes.
"The crowd was just great. I'm happy to have won a second title here. But Roger is a great player.
"He's been the finalist at Monte Carlo, finalist at Rome and three times a Hamburg champion on clay. I think it will be easier for him to win Roland Garros than for me to win Wimbledon."
Federer insisted that he learnt lessons from the match.
"It's disappointing but I improved certain things today," said the Swiss world number one.
"Each time I play him, I try to be the aggressive player and come to the net and I have to continue like that."
Federer led 4-1 in the final set and served for victory in the 12th game. Nadal stood 0-30 in that game after his only double-fault of a long afternoon on the clay
But a pair of forehand mistakes, among 89 unforced errors off the Swiss player's racket in a match where he went to the attack from the start nullified both match points.
Nadal held serve for 6-6 to force a tiebreaker, where Federer couldn't hold a 3-1 lead.
The world number one put a backhand long on a service return to hand Nadal his victory chance, which the young king of clay converted as a Federer forehand sailed out.
The final was the second marathon here in as many years - it took Nadal just eight minutes longer to defeat Guillermo Coria for the trophy a year ago.
The teenaher will head to Roland Garros riding a wave of form as defending champion.
All three of Federer's defeats this season have all come at the hands of his young rival.
The Swiss, accompanied during the clay season by legendary coach Tony Roche, is pointing his spring season towards Paris, where he is keen to lift the French Open, the only Grand Slam title which he has never won.
Federer played a solid first set, trading breaks with second seed before the set headed into a tiebreaker.
The Swiss dominated in style, sweeping it to love after 70 minutes.
But the energetic Nadal began to pull his powerful game together after the early setback.
Nadal missed on a set point in the second leading 5-4 but won a tiebreaker as Federer netted a backhand.
Nadal consolidated in the third set to take the lead after three hours on court before the Federer resurgence.
Federer, playing in his 13th straight final, had lost only three of those coming in - Dubai and Monte Carlo this season to Nadal and the Masters Cup in Shanghai to David Nalbandian last year, whom he beat in the Rome semis.
World-beater Nadal hungry for continued clay success
Mon 15 May, 12:53 PM
ROME (AFP) - If he devours future opponents with as much relish as he downed a plate of pasta after a thrilling five-set victory over Roger Federer to win the Rome Masters, Rafael Nadal should make a meal out of the French Open.
The teenaged king of clay proved his pedigree in style Sunday, equalling the record of 53 straight clay-court victories with his 6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) victory for a second straight Rome title.
"I really thought that this would be the week that I would lose. But I've been lucky this year - I won."
Federer, now 1-5 against the teenaged world number two, admitted he failed to take advantage of a great victory chance.
But the Swiss said that he's only been getting better on clay against the standard-bearer on the surface.
"It was a huge battle and I had my chances to win," said the world number one. I did everything that I could, but it wasn't quite enough."
Federer said he's far from discouraged with Roland Garros starting in a fortnight.
"I've been thinking about Paris (the only Grand Slam title he has never won) since the first ball that I hit on clay.
"The clay ambience is all around at this time of the season. It's good to be thinking about Roland Garros and to be excited about playing there."
Federer said his standard will continue to improve when he next faces Nadal.
"I knew after Monte Carlo it was getting better," said Federer, whose three 2006 losses have come against the Spaniard. "This match was a step closer.
"I'm on the right track. It's good to have already played him three times this year."
The final was the second title marathon here in as many years. It took Nadal just eight minutes longer to defeat Guillermo Coria for the trophy a year ago.
Nadal said that he's concentrating on his first match in Hamburg, where German Tommy Haas remains the last obstacle to what would be a new best-ever mark of 54 straight winning clay matches.
"The French Open is far away in my mind," said Nadal, flying to Germany on Monday. "I can only think about Hamburg now."
Fatigued Nadal and Federer pull out of Masters
Mon 15 May, 9:51 PM
HAMBURG, Germany (AFP) - ATP Tour officials may want to ponder again the absurdities of the tournament calendar following the unprecedented withdrawal of the world's two leading players on the opening day of a Masters Series.
World number one Roger Federer and French Open champion Rafael Nadal both announced they were too exhausted to take part in the Hamburg Masters after playing a five-hour final in the Rome Masters only Sunday.
In Federer's case it was hardly a surprise, for he had said soon after the marathon final, in which he held two match points and lost, that he would make an announcement about Hamburg (Monday.
This indicated that he felt the exertion would be too much to try to play another six matches on the slowest and most demanding surface of all this week.
But many had felt that the 19-year-old Nadal might try at least for just one more match, in order to break Guillermo Vilas' 53-match record of wins on clay courts.
However Nadal also feels that becoming sucked into another long tournament, with potentially only six days in which to recover before the defence of his French Open title, is too much of a risk. The clay court Grand Slam starts a day earlier this year.
That should re-open a perennial debate about the vagaries of the positioning of major tournaments. But changing entrenched dates, and affecting the vested interests of sponsors, is a vexed and often intractable question.
Nevertheless there is also wide recognition that a more rational calendar is one of the biggest issues facing modern tennis, because ensuring the presence of leading names in top condition at world class venues is the only way to keep up with other sporting competition and with the needs of television.
American James Blake, world number seven and one of the most respected voices on the tour, believes that there are short and long-term solutions which can help ensure that it is unlikely to happen again.
"I think - I hope - we are attempting to shorten the schedule a little bit," said Blake, who notched up a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Carlos Moya, the former world number one from Spain, on Monday.
"Masters Series, two in a row - it's one thing when its Indian Wells and Miami. Roger (Federer) and I were in the final (in Indian Wells) and we had three days to get ready for Miami. It is even four or five because if you are seeded you get a longer break.
"But if you get a five-hour match on Sunday and are expected to play on Tuesday and then to play every day for six days in a row - that's superhuman. It's asking too much," Blake asserted.
"My stop gap solution would be to make the Rome final two out of three sets. I don't know if I have to worry about that in my career, but for the guys who do it would be a help.
"But I also think to shorten the calendar: you see so many guys with so many injuries. Guys' bodies just break down after a while."
The ATP has for some stated that the Indian Wells and Miami version of Masters Series - which combine men's and women's events and last for a week and a half - is its preferred model.
Preliminary discussions about the possibility of converting both the Rome and the Hamburg events into something similar are believed already to have taken place.
Meanwhile Federer and Nadal now have a fortnight in which to lick their wounds and prepare for the long road to the final in Roland Garros on June 11th.
There will be many hurdles before they can get there, but if they do both make it for their third clay court meeting of 2006, it will be one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of all time.