Tennis-Nadal beats Federer for Dubai title
DUBAI, March 4 (Reuters) Rafael Nadal lifted his first title of the year today when he beat Roger Federer 2-6 6-4 6-4 in the Dubai Open final between the world's two players.
It was the Spanish teenager's third win in four meetings with the Swiss world number one and followed his semi-final victory over Federer in the 2005 French Open semi-finals after which Nadal went on to claim his first grand slam title.
Nadal, who earned his 13th career title, was playing only his second tournament this year after missing three months with a foot injury that kept him out of the Masters Cup in Shanghai and the Australian Open.
The defeat ended top seed Federer's 16-match winning streak this year after he had claimed titles in Doha and at the Australian Open.
The 19-year-old Nadal was able to turn the match in his favour after Federer almost totally dominated the opening set.
Federer, seeking to win four titles at one event for the first time in his career, gave up only two points on serve as he broke to lead 2-0 with a forehand winner and won the final eight points of the set, closing it out with a spectacular over the shoulder backhand that forced an error from his opponent.
The Swiss was able to take control by mixing the pace well, often coming to the net and not letting Nadal settle.
In the second set, Federer led 1-0 and held 30-0 on Nadal's serve, but the Spaniard pulled himself out of a potentially difficult situation.
And as Federer's level inevitably dropped a little, Nadal became more aggressive and eventually managed to make an impact.
Nadal earned a break point to lead 3-2 but was too eager and netted his return, but his big forehand kept him in contention and he broke Federer to love to lead 5-4.
In the third set, Federer hit two aces but still dropped the opening service game when Nadal hit a powerful crosscourt forehand.
Although Federer levelled at 2-2 by hitting a forehand down the line to force a backhand error, Nadal once again broke when it counted most as Federer hit a forehand marginally wide to leave Nadal serving for victory.
REUTERS PM PM2344