Spain’s Rafael Nadal dominated his 30th meeting with Swiss rival Roger Federer to secure his seventh title in nine years at the Rome Open yesterday.
Nadal’s 6-1, 6-3 triumph means he now leads Federer 20-10 in their series, with 13 of his wins coming on clay.
“He played very aggressively from the start, he didn’t make too many mistakes and had a good match overall,” said Federer, who admitted the change in class from his previous challengers this week had been a factor.
“Rafa has much more topspin than all the guys I played this week, so the change was quite a big one,” added the Swiss.
“I tried to play offensively, but unfortunately I didn’t have the best day. It didn’t go the way I was hoping it to go.”
Nadal started the event seeded only fifth after losing many of his ATP ranking points during a seven-month absence from the sport.
However, the Spaniard, winning his sixth title from eight finals so far this season, showed he is back to his best on his preferred surface.
Williams beats Azrenka to clinch title
In the women’s final, world number one Serena Williams swept Belarusian Victoria Azarenka aside 6-1, 6-3 to win her second Rome Open title, a week before a fresh tilt at the French Open.
Williams broke Azarenka’s serve three times in a one-sided first set and despite a tighter second set the American prevailed to stretch her career-best winning streak to 24 matches.
It was Williams’ 51st career title and took her victory tally over Azarenka, who beat the American earlier this season in the final of the Doha hardcourt event, to 12-2 in their series. Azarenka had swept Sara Errani aside in the semi-final on Saturday with a powerful display of tennis which left the Italian, who only made the last-four after Russian second-seed Maria Sharapova pulled out, struggling to mount any kind of challenge.
However, the tables were promptly turned on the third-seeded Belarusian, who found herself on the end of a Williams masterclass that has installed her as the favourite for next week’s French Open at Roland Garros.
Williams, however, said the match was closer than the score suggested.
“It was very close, the first three games were over 20-25 minutes or so, so it wasn’t really easy out there,” said Williams. “Nothing is really easy. I just took the opportunities when I had them. I know she [Azarenka] did as well, but I came up with the good shots sometimes.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.
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