Chasing pack snaps at Federer's heels

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Kuala Lumpur, Nov 20: World number one Roger Federer's claims of invincibility mean nothing to Rafael Nadal and the Spaniard has vowed to hunt down his nemesis in 2008.

After winning the Masters Cup in Shanghai on Sunday, the imperious Federer warned his pursuers not to even try to rule the sport while he is still around.

Nadal, soundly beaten by the Swiss in the semi-finals last week, refuses to give up in his pursuit of the top ranking, however.

''I have always tried hard and will continue to try hard,'' Nadal told Reuters today. ''Sure, it is difficult to beat Federer now but if I try my best and work hard, I have a chance to beat him consistently.'' Nadal faces Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the Malaysian capital on Tuesday in a ''Clash of the Titans'' exhibition match as part of Malaysia's year-long party to celebrate the country's 50th year of independence.

Three-times French Open champion Nadal is in a rare position of leading Federer head-to-head, holding an 8-6 advantage over his rival.

INCREDIBLE FORM

However, six of those victories came on his favoured clay surface and only two on hard courts.

At this year's Masters Series in Hamburg, Nadal lost to Federer for the first time on clay.

World number eight Gasquet is also looking to unseat Federer and said the Swiss star is now ripe to be caught by a new generation of players including himself and Nadal.

''Federer is 26 and yes, he is in incredible form and appears to be unbeatable, but I don't think he can get much better than he is now,'' Gasquet told Reuters.

''I'm only 21, Nadal is also still young and players like us are going to catch up with Federer. We need to work really hard on our games but we can do it.'' Gasquet has one career victory over Federer when they met for the first time, at the 2005 Monaco tournament.

However, Federer has won their past six matches, including this year's Wimbledon semi-final.

Federer is also set to play in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday against former world number one Pete Sampras, who is coming out of retirement for the match.

UNI

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