Tennis

Nadal: The better man won

Federer beats great rival for fourth time this year to boost his chances of ending year as No. 1

Roger Federer brushed aside world No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3 to win the Shanghai Masters yesterday and register his fourth victory of the year over his Spanish rival.

The Swiss world No. 2 beat Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open and Miami Masters and in the last 16 at Indian Wells earlier this year, and never looked like losing to his long-time rival in Shanghai, firing 10 aces as he cruised to victory at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.

The 36-year-old Federer, the only man who can still stop Nadal ending the year as No. 1, took an hour and 12 minutes to claim his sixth title of the year and his second Shanghai crown with a clinical performance.

It was also Federer's 94th title, drawing him level with the great Ivan Lendl.

"It's been a tough week, five straight matches is always a test and a challenge for anybody's body, especially with the pressure rising," said Federer.

"I felt I was playing well all week and that settled my nerves because I was returning well from the match here against (Diego) Schwartzman (in his opener).

"The serve only got better and I saved the best for last - I played some great matches, against (Juan Martin) del Potro in sets two and three and now these two sets here today.

"In a way not surprising because I felt good all week... I was ready."

Nadal, who was ahead in their overall record going into the clash - 23 wins to Federer's 14 - admitted that he had been beaten by the better man on the night.

"I could maybe have done some things better," said the 31-year-old.

“When someone plays better than you in most of the things that really matter in this sport, then it’s tough.”Rafael Nadal on his loss to Roger Federer

"Of course, (this) was not the best match of the week for me... but, when someone plays better than you in most of the things that really matter in this sport, then it's tough."

Federer, fondly known as "Cow" in China for his laid-back personality, put Nadal under the cosh in breaking him in the first game and then raced through his own service game to lead 2-0.

Somewhere in the stadium, somebody rattled a cow bell.

Federer made it 4-2 with two booming aces in a row, drawing huge cheers from his fans in the stadium.

In contrast, Nadal - a 16-time Grand Slam winner but had never won the Shanghai Masters - was labouring through his service games.

TIMELESS

There were suggestions that Federer might not be quite as fresh as his old foe, having been pushed to three sets a day earlier in the second semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro.

The timeless Federer rubbished that notion as he seared his way to a 5-3 first-set lead.

Nadal sent down his fourth ace for 5-4, only for Federer to seal the set with his seventh ace of the match.

There was little separating the rivals in the second set until the fifth game.

Nadal saved the first break-point, but could not survive the second one to put Federer in reach of the title.

Victory saw Federer close the gap at the top of the world rankings as the year approaches its climax.

Nadal declined to say if he had been hampered by a problem with his right knee, which was bandaged during the match.

"I don't want to talk about that now, sorry," Nadal said.

"After losing a final, it's not the moment." - WIRE SERVICES

TennisRoger FedererRafael Nadal